Skip to main content

Gaby Maimon honored with a McKnight Scholar Award

Gaby Maimon, assistant professor at The Rockefeller University and head of the Laboratory of Integrative Brain Function, has received a McKnight Scholar Award for his research on the neuronal basis for behavior. Maimon and five other young scientists will each receive $75,000 per year for three years, The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience announced on May 15.


Gaby Maimon

The McKnight Endowment Fund seeks to bolster innovative research designed to improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of brain diseases by supporting young scientists working on problems that, if solved at the basic level, would have immediate and significant impact on clinically relevant issues.

Using the fruit fly Drosophilia melanogaster, Maimon aims to link the electrical activity of neurons and the biochemical action of molecules to their computational roles in behavior. He has a particular interest in understanding how central brain structures, distant from the sensory and motor periphery, govern behavioral choice. By seeking a comprehensive understanding of how small nervous systems perform specific neural calculations, he hopes to gain insight into the complete set of integrative processes in larger brains. Recent work, for instance, revealed that flies become partially blind when they turn in flight, much as humans do during rapid eye movements, suggesting flies could be used to better understand dynamic perceptual silencing across the animal kingdom, including in humans.

Dr. Maimon received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2005, working in the laboratory of John Assad. He conducted his postdoctoral training from 2005 to 2010 at the California Institute of Technology with Michael Dickinson. He joined The Rockefeller University as assistant professor in 2011. His honors include the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, the 2012 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Searle Scholar Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the New York Stem Cell Foundation’s Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Award and the Irma T. Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Trusts Research Award. He was named one of Popular Science’s Brilliant Ten in 2011.

The McKnight Endowment Fund is an independent charitable organization established by The McKnight Foundation. William L. McKnight led the 3M company for three decades and had a personal interest in memory and its diseases. He set aside part of his legacy to support research for those suffering from brain injury or disease and cognitive impairment.

Other Rockefeller faculty who have won the award include Vanessa Ruta, Roderick MacKinnon, Ali Brivanlou, Winrich Freiwald, and Leslie Vosshall.