Neuroscientists recognized with Klingenstein-Simons Fellowships

Drs. Ryan Hibbs and Todd Roberts
(l-r) Drs. Ryan Hibbs and Todd Roberts

By Lin Lofley

UT Southwestern Medical Center neuroscientists Dr. Ryan Hibbs and Dr. Todd Roberts are among the 12 recipients selected for 2014 Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Awards in the Neurosciences.

Dr. David Russell, Vice Provost and Dean of Basic Research and Professor of Molecular Genetics, praised the Department of Neuroscience: “Recognition by the Klingenstein Fund and the Simons Foundation of the work of Drs. Hibbs and Roberts is both doubly delightful and a strong testament to the outstanding research programs that are being developed in Neuroscience on our campus.”

Dr. Joseph Takahashi, Chair of Neuroscience, said, “We’re very pleased and proud of Dr. Hibbs and Dr. Roberts, and we’re also proud to note that they join Dr. Tae-Kyung Kim – Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and a 2012 winner of this honor – to give us three faculty members currently holding this prestigious award.”

The awards, given to support extraordinary scholars early in their academic careers, each provide $225,000 over three years. The three-decade awards program is administered by the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund which, in 2013, partnered with the Simons Foundation to support the program.

This year, only UT Southwestern and Johns Hopkins University had more than one honoree, with two each.

Dr. Hibbs, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Biophysics, joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2012. He earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry at Whitman College in 2000, and completed a graduate degree at the University of California, San Diego in 2006.

His research interests include ion channel structure-function, ligand recognition, and membrane-protein structural biology.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this award,” Dr. Hibbs said. “The proteins we work on are involved in everything from nicotine addiction, to schizophrenia, to Alzheimer’s disease. This generous financial award will allow us to tackle problems at the next level of complexity in the system we are studying.”

Dr. Roberts, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, came to UT Southwestern in 2013. He earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Maryland College Park campus. Dr. Roberts’ research focuses on in vivo imaging of the brain, synaptic plasticity, systems neuroscience, and vocal learning.

“Receiving the Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship is great honor,” he said. “This award will be invaluable over the next three years as it will support new research avenues that may not have been otherwise possible.”

The Klingenstein-Simons Awards support young investigators who are engaged in basic or clinical research that may lead to a better understanding of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Other former Klingenstein honorees at UT Southwestern from the Department of Neuroscience and the years they were selected are Dr. Jay Gibson, Associate Professor of Neuroscience (2002), and Dr. Jonathan Terman, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology (2006).

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Dr. Hibbs is the Effie Marie Cain Scholar in Medical Research.

Dr. Roberts is the Thomas O. Hicks Scholar in Medical Research.

Dr. Russell holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair in Molecular Genetics.

Dr. Takahashi holds the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.

Dr. Terman is a Rita C. and William P. Clements, Jr. Scholar in Medical Research.