Faculty Duncan NRI Zoghbi Scholar Award

A special fund has been established by Dr. Huda Zoghbi, director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital, to honor the many generations of trainees who have worked in her laboratory.

The purpose of this Duncan NRI Zoghbi Scholar Award is to foster the success of the next generation of trainees in biomedical research and help them establish independent research programs.

One scholar per year will be selected from fellows who are currently conducting postdoctoral research at the Duncan NRI and anticipate applying for independent research positions within a year or so.

The scholars will be awarded $50,000 to pursue innovative projects that will form the foundation of their independent research programs. In addition, the awardees also receive a personal prize of $3,000 and a plaque.


1. Candidates should hold a Ph.D. and/or M.D. degree, and be planning to apply for independent research positions within a year or so (if not already doing so).

2. Fellows who hold an NIH K99/R00, K08 award, or other similar grant award that supports the transition to independence are not eligible.

3. Candidates should be a full-time researcher or physician-scientist with at least 75% protected research time at the NRI.

4. Women, international, and minority candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.


A single PDF document should contain the following four components.

1. A research proposal (0.5-inch margin and 11-point Arial font, 2 pages) describing the significance, aims, and approaches of the project. The scope of the proposal should be appropriate for the funding period (1-2 years). Preliminary data are not required, but one additional page of figures and legends can be included. References can be added following the figures and legends page (no page limit for the references). 

2. A career development plan (1 page) describing the candidate's overall plan to establish a successful career as an independent investigator. The plan should explain how the proposed research differs from his/her postdoctoral mentor's research and state how the results from this project will be used for future job applications. The plan should also include steps to develop skills in mentorship, collaboration, and networking. The career development plan should be mutually agreed upon and signed by both the candidate and candidate's mentor.

3. A full CV of the candidate.

4. A budget (1 page) describing how the funds will be used (e.g., supplies, equipment).

One single PDF document should contain the above 4 components.

A reference letter from the postdoctoral mentor addressing the candidate’s potential to become a leader in the field should be sent directly by email to Dionysia Briscoe (Dionysia.Briscoe@bcm.edu).


All applications will be reviewed by a faculty committee with diverse expertise (Drs. Jeannie Chin, Christophe Herman, Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, Meng Wang, and Mingshan Xue). The selected scholar will be announced by late August or early September 2022. The selection committee will provide brief constructive feedback to all applications.


1. The $50,000 fund must be used for research-associated expenses and cannot be used for the scholar’s salary and fringe benefits.

2. The start date of the award will be decided between the scholar and the program. The fund can be used over a period of 1–2 years while the scholar conducts postdoctoral research at the NRI.

3. At the end of the funding period, the scholar will present his or her research and career development activities supported by this award to an NRI-wide audience.

4. If the scholar receives an NIH K99/R00, K08 award, or other similar grant award that supports the transition to independence, the scholar will remain an NRI Zoghbi Scholar, but the unused funds should be returned to the program.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Mingshan Xue (mxue@bcm.edu).


Dr. Sameer Bajikar 
Postdoctoral Fellow
Mentor: Dr. Huda Zoghbi
Research title: Investigating Dysregulation of GDF11 and SMAD3 in Rett Syndrome.

Dr. Qi Ye (Runner-up)
Postdoctoral fellow
Mentor: Dr. Hyun Kyoung Lee
Research title: Deciphering Astrocytic Arginine Metabolism-cytokine Coupling in Blood-brain-barrier Repair in Stroke
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Dr. Jian Zhou
Postdoctoral Associate
Mentor: Dr. Huda Zoghbi
Research title: Examining the role of Transcription Factor (TCF20) in brain development and complex behaviors.
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Dr. Wu Chen
Postdoctoral Associate 
Mentor: Dr. Mingshan Xue
Research title: "Downregulating Matrix Metallopeptidase-9 in adulthood to rescue a mouse model of epileptic encephalopathy.” 
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Dr. Heather Born
Postdoctoral Associate 
Mentor: Dr. Anne Anderson
Research title: "Integrative neurophysiological and behavioral approaches to understanding neuroinflammation in epilepsy.” 
Current Position: Senior Research Investigator - Gene Therapy Program | University of Pennsylvania
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Dr. Hari Krishna Yalamanchili, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate
Mentor: Dr. Zhandong Liu
Research title: Decoding Cryptic Splicing in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Driving Disease Gene Discovery.
Current Position: Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine - Computational Neurogenomics
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Shuang Hao, Ph.D. 
Postdoctoral Associate
Mentor: Dr. Jianrong Tang
Research Title: Effects of deep brain stimulation on motor deficits in mouse models of Angelman syndrome.
Current position: Professor at Northeastern University, Shenyang, China