Research Grants & Young Clinician Investigator Awards

As the premier funder of neurosurgical studies, the NREF provides funding for studies in basic, translational and patient-oriented clinical research annually for North American investigators.

Research Fellowship Grant

One year, up to $50,000

Open to residents only, the NREF Research Fellowship Grant provides funding for neurosurgeons preparing for academic careers as clinician investigators. Applicants must be physicians who are currently accepted into an approved residency training program in neurological surgery within North America. One-hundred percent of the research grant applicant's research efforts must be devoted to this project.

Young Clinician Investigator Award

One year, up to $50,000

The NREF Young Clinician Investigator Award supports junior faculty pursuing careers as clinical investigators. Applicants must be neurosurgeons, no more than two years from completing neurosurgical residency training or clinical fellowship, who are full-time faculty in North American teaching institutions. Fifty percent of the young clinician investigator's research efforts must be devoted to this project.

The NREF does not pay for any indirect costs related to our grant awards.

I was fortunate to develop an exciting co-mentored research program with neurosurgeon-scientist, Dr. E. Antonio Chiocca at Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital and neuroscientist Dr. Ed Boyden at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The NREF is a fantastic mechanism to foster young neurosurgeon-scientists in their career to develop the initial phases of their research program, and I have been very fortunate to be a recipient of an NREF research fellowship award during my residency. As a neurosurgeon-physician scientist, having the support of mechanisms and foundations such as the NREF are imperative to our ability to help conduct research to bridge the gap between the basic, translational and clinical neurosciences with our neurosurgical practice. I am extremely grateful for the support of the NREF to help foster my career goals.

Pablo Valdes Quevedo, MD, PhD, 2017-18 B*CURED & NREF Research Fellowship Grant

Past Awardees

2018-2019 Academic Year

Stephano Chang, MD
University of Miami

  • Award: NREF & Medtronic 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Multi-target neurostimulation to recover locomotion in a large animal model of contusive spinal cord injury
  • Sponsor: James Guest, MD, PhD

Bryan Choi, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Award: NREF & B*CURED 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell Therapy for Glioblastoma
  • Sponsor: Bob Carter, MD, PhD, FAANS

Domenico A. Gattozzi, MD
University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute (KUMCRI)

  • Award: L. Nelson "Nick" Hopkins NREF 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant jointly sponsored by Arvind Ahuja, MD, FAANS, and the AANS/CNS Cerebrovascular Section
  • Project Title: Comparative Use of Human Umbilical Cord Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells and their Exosome Derivatives for Functional Improvement after Induced Ischemic Stroke: a Springboard for Translational Studies
  • Sponsor: Randolph J. Nudo, PhD

Benjamin L. Grannan, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Award: NREF & American Academy of Neurological Surgery 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Studying the neural encoding of social interaction in the primate amygdala using a game theory task
  • Sponsor: Ziv Williams, MD, FAANS

Ammar H. Hawasli MD, PhD
Washington University

  • Award: NREF/Bagan Family Fellowship 2018-2019 Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: Evaluation of the Human Cortical Connectome as a Biomarker of Spinal Cord Injury
  • Sponsor: Wilson Z. Ray, MD, FAANS

Teddy Kim, MD
Wake Forest School of Medicine

  • Award: Andrew T. Parsa Research Fellowship 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: VSV-LASV as oncolytic virus therapy for glioblastoma
  • Sponsor: Douglas Lyles, PhD

Maria Peris-Celda, MD, PhD
Albany Medical College

  • Award: Rhoton Young Clinician Investigator Award for Neuroanatomical Research
  • Project Title: North-East Anatomy Laboratory
  • Sponsor: Alan S. Boulos, MD, FAANS

Bornali Kundu, MD
University of Utah

  • Award: NREF and AANS/CNS Section on Neurotrauma & Critical Care 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Spreading depolarizations in subdural hematoma
  • Sponsor: Kevin C. Brennan, MD, & John D. Rolston, MD, PhD

Stefan Lang, MD
University of Calgary

  • Award: NREF & AANS/CNS Section on Tumors 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Facilitating pre-operative sensori-motor network plasticity with non-invasive brain stimulation and prehabilitation in patients with diffuse glioma: a multimodal TMS/TDCS/fMRI study
  • Sponsor: John Kelly, PhD, MD

Whitney E. Parker, MD, PhD
Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University

  • Award: NREF and AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: The Role of Novel NMDA Receptor Variants in Human Brain Development and Epilepsy
  • Sponsor: M. Elizabeth Ross, MD, PhD

Michael Safaee, MD
University of California, San Francisco

  • Award: American Academy of Neurological Surgery 2018-19 Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Molecular targeting of CD97 as a therapeutic approach for glioblastoma
  • Sponsor: Manish Aghi, MD, PhD, FAANS

Brian J. A. Gill, MD
Columbia University

  • Award: NREF & American Academy of Neurological Surgery 2018-19 Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: Electrophysiological Properties of the Peritumoral Region in a Slice Model Glioma Associated Seizures
  • Sponsor: Guy M. McKhann II, MD, FAANS

Anthony Wang, MD
University of California, Los Angeles

  • Award: NREF & Kate Carney Family 2018-19 Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: Characterization of cerebral arteriovenous malformations and their surrounding astrocytes
  • Sponsor: Linda Liau, MD, PhD, MBA, FAANS

Kunal Gupta, MD
Oregon Health & Science University

  • Award: NREF & Bagan Family Foundation Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Investigating the role of Wnts in seizure-induced aberrant hippocampal neurogenesis
  • Sponsor: Eric Schnell, MD, PhD

Megan Jack, MD, PhD
University of Kansas

  • Award: NREF & AANS/CNS Section on Pain Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Neuroinflammation and Exercise in Regeneration and Recovery of the Injured Peripheral Nervous System
  • Sponsor: Doug Wright, PhD

Darryl Lau, MD
University of California-San Francisco

  • Award: Andrew T. Parsa Research Fellowship sponsored by the NREF and the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Tumors Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: The Role of c-Met/ß1-integrin Complex Formation in the Establishment of Brain Metastases
  • Sponsor: Manish K. Aghi, MD, PhD

Brian Lee, MD, PhD
California Institute of Technology

  • Award: NREF & American Academy of Neurological Surgery Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: Generating artificial sensation by electrical stimulation of the hand area of the primary somatosensory (S1) cortex for a closed-loop brain- machine interface (BMI)
  • Sponsor: Richard Andersen, PhD

Sarah T. Menacho, MD
University of Utah

  • Award: NREF & AANS/CNS Section on Neurotrauma & Critical Care Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: A Tool to Improve Treatment Threshold Compliance in the Neurocritical Care Unit
  • Sponsor: Gregory Hawryluk, MD, PhD

Arjun Vivek Pendharkar, MD
Stanford University

  • Award: NREF & American Academy of Neurological Surgery Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Role of Contralesional (Uninjured) Hemisphere Activation in Functional Recovery after Stroke
  • Sponsor: Gary K. Steinberg, MD, PhD

Pablo Valdes Quevedo, MD, PhD
Harvard/Brigham and Women's Hospital

  • Award: B*CURED & NREF Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Expansion Microscopy for Interrogation of Cancer Mechanisms and Phenotypes in Gliomas
  • Sponsor: Ennio A. Chiocca, MD, PhD

Robert Starke, MD
University of Miami

  • Award: L. Nelson "Nick" Hopkins NREF Young Clinician Investigator Award jointly sponsored by Arvind Ahuja, MD, FAANS, and the AANS/CNS Cerebrovascular Section
  • Project Title: The Role of Endothelial Cell Dysfunction & Differentiation in Aneurysms Progression & Healing
  • Sponsor: Joshua M. Hare, MD

Krishanthan Vigneswaran, MD
Emory University

  • Award: NREF & AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Identification of small molecule inhibitors of novel receptor tyrosine kinase pathways in adult and pediatric glioblastoma.
  • Sponsor: Jeffrey J. Olson, MD

Jefferson Wilson, MD
University of Toronto/St. Michael's Hospital

  • Award: NREF & Medtronic Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: The Aging Face of Spinal Trauma: Exploring the Epidemiology and Impact of Spinal Cord Injury in the Elderly
  • Sponsor: Michael Fehlings, MD, PhD

Jacky Yeung, MD
Yale University

  • Award: NREF & AANS/CNS Section on Tumors Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Immunogenetic profiling and targeting novel immune check point regulators in meningiomas
  • Sponsor: Lieping Chen, MD, PhD

Christopher Alvarez-Breckenridge, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Award: AANS/CNS Joint Section on Tumors Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Genomic characterization of melanoma's metastatic genetic drivers to the brain and predictors of response to immune checkpoint blockade
  • Sponsor: Pricilla Brastianos, MD

Han-Chiao Isaac Chen, MD
University of Pennsylvania

  • Award: Bagan Family Foundation Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: Restoring visual cortex function using self-aggregating cortical spheroid tissue or dissociated neurons
  • Sponsor: Stewart Anderson

Kimberly Hamilton, MD
University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Award: AANS/CNS Joint Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: The Folate and Methylation Pathway in Regeneration and Recovery of the Injured Peripheral Nervous System
  • Sponsor: Bermans Iskandar, MD, FAANS

Mark Alexander Mahan, MD
University of Utah

  • Award: NREF/Medtronic Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Preclinical model of rapid-stretch nerve injuries
  • Sponsor: Alan Light, PhD

Matthew Mian, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Award: AANS/CNS Joint Section on Pain Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Emotional Conflict Processing in Humans
  • Sponsor: Emad Eskandar, MD, FAANS

Jamie Purzner
Stanford University School of Medicine

  • Award: B*CURED/NREF Research Grant
  • Project Title: Exploring the Epigenetic Regulation of Neuronal Differentiation to Differentiate Medulloblatoma Cells
  • Sponsor: Margaret T. Fuller

Visish Srinivasan, MD
Baylor College of Medicine/M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

  • Award: AANS/CNS Joint Section on Cerebrovascular Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Endovascular Delivery of Allogenic Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Transfected with the Delta-24 Oncolytic Virus in a Canine Model of Glioblastoma
  • Sponsor: Peter Kan, MD, FAANS

Ananth Vellimana
Washington University School of Medicine

  • Award: NREF and American Academy of Neurological Surgery Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: Activation of Endogenous Protective Mechanisms: A Potential Therapeutic Strategy to Combat SAH-induced Neurovascular Dysfunction
  • Sponsor: Gregory J. Zipfel, MD, FAANS

Marcus Zachariah, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Award: NREF and American Academy of Neurological Surgery Research Fellowship Grant
  • Project Title: Circulating Tumor Cells and Brain Metastasis
  • Sponsor: Daniel Haber, MD, PhD

Casey H. Halpern, MD
Stanford University

  • Award: NREF/Medtronic Research Fellow
  • Project Title: Responsive neurostimulation for obesity: evidence from a mouse model of diet-induced obesity
  • Sponsor: Robert Malenka, MD, PhD

Ammar Hawasli, MD
Washington University

  • Award: AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves Research Fellow
  • Project Title: Resting-state brain functional magnetic resonance imaging to predict functional recovery following spinal cord injury
  • Sponsor: Wilson Z. Ray, MD

Betty Y.S. Kim, MD
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine

  • Award: NREF/Columbia Neurosurgery Softball Research Fellowship in Neuro-Oncology
  • Project Title: Normalizing tumor vasculature to promote targeted nanomedicine delivery and therapy of glioblastoma multiforme
  • Sponsor: Robert Wharen, MD

Phillipe Magown, MD
Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary

  • Award: NREF and Academy of Neurological Surgery Edward H. Oldfield, MD Research Award
  • Project Title: Network and neuronal activity evoked by DBS of the ventro-medial prefrontal cortex: a therapeuticmodel for treatment refractory depression.
  • Sponsor: Zelma Kiss, MD, PhD

Peter Morgenstern, MD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

  • Award: NREF Research Fellow
  • Project Title: The role of menin and a novel approach for targeted therapy in Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma
  • Sponsor: Viviane Tabar, MD

Ziev Moses, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Award: NREF Research Fellow
  • Project Title: Developing a novel cortical-spinal neural prosthesis for reconstituting volitional movement of a paralyzed limb
  • Sponsor: Ziv Williams, MD

Amanda Saratsis, MD
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

  • Award: Bagan Family Young Clinician Investigator Award
  • Project Title: Tenascin-C as a Therapeutic Target in Pediatric Brainstem Glioma (AGFs) in the development of Medulloblastoma
  • Sponsor: Andrew T. Parsa, MD, PhD

Gentian Toshkezi, MD

  • Award: NREF and AANS/CNS Cerebrovascular Section Research Fellow
  • Project Title: The therapeutic role of hematopoietic growth factors in the subacute phase of traumatic brain injury.
  • Sponsor: Li-Ru Zhao, MD, PhD

Andrew Venteicher, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Award: NREF Research Fellow
  • Project Title: Identifying human glioma propagating cells and their vulnerabilities using single cell transcriptome sequencing technology
  • Sponsor: Mario Suva, MD, PhD

Pascal Zinn, MD
University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Award: NREF and AANS/CNS Joint Section on Tumors Research Fellow
  • Project Title: Targeting Radiogenomics-derived core Periostin Correlated Gene Networks in Glioblastoma
  • Sponsor: Rivka R. Colen, MD
  • Kurtis Gray Birch, MD
  • Eyiyemisi Damisah, MD
  • Courtney Rory Goodwin, MD
  • Seunggu J. Han, MD
  • Nelson Moussazadeh, MD
  • Ciaran James Powers, MD, PhD, FAANS
  • Katie Lynn Pricola, MD
  • Teresa Purzner, MD
  • Jayesh Thawani, MD
  • Jessica Wilden, MD

Shortly after winning my grant, I found out a widely-recognized academic neurosurgical oncologist – who I greatly admired – had reviewed my proposal and he gave me personal feedback. It was an honor and also pointed to how the academic neurosurgical community invested a great amount of time in this program. Looking at the alumni of the NREF research fellowship is like looking at an academic neurosurgery honor roll. The study I initiated details characteristics and career outcomes of the NREF recipients, highlights how important this grant process has been in supporting the creation of surgeon scientists.

Analiz Rodriguez, MD, PhD, 2013-14 NREF Cerebrovascular Section Research Fellowship Grant
  • Vijay Agarwal, MD
  • Zarina S. Ali, MD
  • Luis Enrique Kolb, MD
  • Daniel A. Orringer, MD
  • Rory J. Petteys, MD
  • Analiz Rodriguez, MD, PhD
  • Nicholas Szerlip, MD
  • Michael Tso, MD, PhD
  • Kristin J. Weaver, MD, PhD
  • Jon T. Willie, MD, PhD
  • Wael F. Asaad, MD, PhD
  • Neil Rainer Malhotra, MD
  • Katharine M. Cronk, MD
  • Heather H. McCrea, MD
  • Richard G. Everson, MD
  • Timothy Ryan Owens, MD
  • Fady Girgis, MD
  • Matthew R. Reynolds, MD
  • Michael Ivan, MD
  • Adam M. Sonabend, MD
  • Pierpaolo Peruzzi, MD
  • Shawn Hervey-Jumper, MD
  • Chad Washington, MD
  • Gary Schwartzbauer, MD
  • Craig Shannon, MD
  • Arthur Chou, MD
  • Michael Oh, MD
  • Sheila Singh, MD
  • Nader Sanai, MD
  • Sameer Sheth, MD, PhD
  • Stephen Monteith, MD
  • Nirav Patel, MD
  • D. Ryan Ormond, MD
  • Deshdeepak Sahni, MD
  • Jon Willie, MD
  • Christoph Hofstetter, MD
  • Ning Lin, MD
  • Hongyan Jenny Zou, MD
  • Michael Steinmetz, MD
  • Kaveh Asadi-Moghaddam, MD
  • Joel Bauman, MD
  • Raqeeb M. Haque, MD
  • Michael T. Koltz, MD
  • Shahid M. Nimjee, MD, PhD
  • Zeguang Ren, MD
  • Demitre Serletis, MD
  • Michael E. Sughrue, MD
  • Michael Lim, MD
  • Aaron Dumont, MD
  • John Kuo, MD
  • Jonathan Miller, MD
  • Rollin Hu, MD
  • Rahul Jandial, MD
  • Betty Kim, MD
  • Pawel Ochalski, MD
  • Daniel M. Sciubba, MD
  • Suzanne Tharin, MD
  • Timothy Vogel, MD
  • Jason S. Weinstein, MD
  • Gerald Grant, MD
  • Brian L. Hoh, MD
  • Jason Huang, MD
  • Eve Tsai, MD, PhD
  • Gregory Zipfel, MD
  • Justin Cetas, MD, PhD
  • H. Francis Farhadi, MD, PhD
  • Andrew Foy, MD
  • James Frazier, MD
  • Jason L. Gerrard, MD, PhD

The recognition I received from the NREF served as a springboard for future research opportunities. I have been very fortunate with the trajectory of my career, and I have the NREF to thank. The NREF provides funding to students and early investigators that leads to great discoveries. Today, I support the NREF not only with my Cushing Circle donations, but also by directing great students to apply for the Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship. It’s the ‘circle of life'.

G. Edward Vates, MD, PhD, FAANS, 2006-07 NREF Young Clinician Investigator Award recipient and NREF Cushing Circle of Giving member
  • Ming (David) Cheng, MD
  • Lewis Chun Hou, MD
  • Eric M. Jackson, MD
  • Adrian W. Laxton, MD
  • Daniel A. Lim, MD
  • Neil R. Malhotra, MD
  • Wael Musleh, MD
  • Lyman W. Whitlatch, MD
  • John Boockvar, MD
  • Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, MD
  • Michael D. Taylor, MD
  • G. Edward Vates, MD
  • Daniel P. Cahill
  • Ali Chahlavi
  • Suresh N. Magge
  • Joseph G. Ong
  • Gavin W. Britz, MD
  • William T. Curry, Jr.
  • Emad Eskandar
  • James W. Leiphart
  • Stephen Russell
  • David Cory Adamson
  • Ryan DenHaese
  • Michael Kelly
  • Brian Ragel
  • Michael Louis Smith
  • Maxwell Boakye
  • Steven Casha
  • Amy B. Heimberger
  • Charles Y. Liu

At a time when resources available for innovative research continues to shrink, I am very thankful to the NREF for providing me with the opportunity to pursue my work.

Kevin A. Walter, MD, FAANS, 2003 NREF Young Clinician Investigator Award recipient
  • Ramin Amirnovin
  • Robert J. Kowalski
  • John S. Kuo
  • Todd G. Mainprize
  • Atom Sarkar
  • Judy Huang
  • Andrew T. Parsa
  • Kevin A. Walter
  • Sheila K. Singh
  • Ira Garonzik
  • Charles C. Matouk
  • Cornelia S. von Koch
  • Jeffrey P. Blount
  • Nicholas Boulis
  • Laurie L. Ackerman
  • Kent C. New
  • Adetokunbo A. Oyelese
  • Michael Taylor
  • Zelma H.T. Kiss
  • Theodore H. Schwartz
  • Dean Chou
  • John K. Park
  • Matthew D. Smyth
  • Michael M. Woodruff
  • John K. Park
  • Bruce E. Pollock
  • Michael A. Vogelbaum
  • Gregory D. Foltz
  • Babak S. Jahromi
  • Sunghoon Lee
  • Robert E. Gross
  • John H. Sampson
  • Tord D. Alden
  • Judith L. Gorelick
  • James M. Schuster
  • Frederick F. Lang
  • Carl Lauryssen

The NREF support was a key link between my current funding activities and my previous research efforts.

Adam N. Mamelak, MD, FAANS, 1997 NREF Young Clinician Investigator Award recipient
  • Tord D. Alden
  • Judith L. Gorelick
  • James M. Schuster
  • Frederick F. Lang
  • Carl Lauryssen
  • Frank Feigenbaum
  • Guy M. McKhann
  • James M. Markert
  • D. Kyle Kim
  • John H. Sampson
  • Lawrence S. Chin
  • Mark S. Dias
  • James D. Guest
  • William D. Hunter
  • R. Loch Macdonald
  • Donald M. O’Rourke
  • Abbas F. Sadikot
  • John Paul Elliott
  • William T. Couldwell
  • Diana L. Abson Kraemer
  • Mark S. LeDoux
  • Stephen L. Skirboll
  • Ian Pollack
  • Gregory A. Brandenberg
  • E. Thomas Chappell
  • Kenneth Follett
  • Jeffrey J. Olson
  • Eric L. Zager

Our research that resulted in the first ever optical maps of functional and epileptiform activity in human patients and the resulting Nature paper was directly funded by the Research fellowship.

Michael M. Haglund, MD, PhD, FAANS, 1990 NREF Research Fellowship Grant recipient
  • Michael M. Haglund
  • M. Christopher Wallace
  • Joung H. Lee
  • Richard G. Parker
  • Samuel J. Hassenbusch
  • Fredric B. Meyer
  • John Aryanpur
  • Gary K. Steinberg
  • Julian K. Wu
  • Roberta P. Glick
  • J. Marc Simard
  • Griffith R. Harsh
  • Charles J. Weitz
  • Marc R. Mayberg
  • Warren R. Selman
  • Joseph M. Phillips
  • Steven J. Schiffs
  • Samuel J. Hassenbusch

NREF is the Philanthropic Arm of the AANS

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