Thanks to our Partnership with the Endowment for Neurosciences, Two Promising Young Scientists Aim to Advance What We Know About the Brain and neurological disorders
For more than 40 years, the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) has awarded grants to U.S.-Israel scientific partnerships, paving the way for transformative breakthroughs, and helping Israel become one of the world’s great scientific hubs.
Dr. Steven J. Greenberg
There are many times, however, when even the most promising scientific proposals face the possibility of going unfunded because the number of outstanding applicants outweighs available funds.
That’s where support from the generous philanthropic community in the United States comes in. We work hard to match highly-qualified scientific projects with private philanthropic resources. One of these trusted philanthropic partners is the Endowment for Neurosciences (ENS). Recently, the ENS approved a $50,000 gift for two young scientists whose work could bring about drastic changes in our understanding about neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The two scientists, Joshua L. Plotkin and Joshua A. Goldberg, are focusing on the brain’s ability to initiate behaviors that are beneficial and appropriate, and suppress those that are not. This is referred to as “action selection.” This is one of the most important jobs of the brain, and when it’s not done properly, neurological disorders can occur.
Joshua L. Plotkin
Joshua A. Goldberg
While the general parts of the brain that are important for action selection are well known, the details of how these brain regions interact to guide action selection are unclear. The project aims to identify very specific components of brain circuitry. These locations can be looked at as specific targets for potential therapeutic intervention in the vast number of neurological disorders where action selection is impaired.
The team’s BSF proposal was considered excellent by BSF’s panel and ad hoc reviewers. However, due to lack of available funds, BSF sought assistance from other philanthropic resources to provide the scientists with the resources they needed. With the new ENS gift, Plotkin and Goldberg will receive funding and can continue their project together for another year.
“We are very grateful for this,” said Plotkin, who is an assistant professor at the Stony Brook (NY) University School of Medicine. “It shows how much BSF believes in what we are trying to do.”
Added Goldberg, a researcher with the Departments of Medical Neurobiology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, “at a time when it’s often difficult to get scientific funding in Israel, this will give us what we need for further study and evaluation. When we apply for BSF funding again next year, we will hopefully know even more than we do now about the circuitry of the brain.”
For Dr. Steven J. Greenberg, president of the ENS as well as a board member of the American Friends of the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (AFBSF), this project exemplifies the important role that philanthropists can play in assisting promising scientists.
“There is no question that the neurosciences offer many avenues for more study, exploration and understanding,” Dr. Greenberg said. “I am very happy to help BSF in efforts such as this, where scientists from the United States and Israel work together, and I am looking forward to seeing what Joshua Plotkin and Joshua Goldberg discover.”
Dr. Yair Rotstein, BSF Executive Director, praised Dr. Greenberg and the ENS for their support.
“This means a great deal to BSF and to the international research community,” said Rothstein. “The ENS supports the neurosciences, and it is an example of our willingness to work with philanthropists and organizations with interests in many scientific fields. Israel and the United States produce many of the best scientists on earth. By working with us to bring these scientists together, foundations such as the ENS are playing important roles in the future of science.”