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The Society for Neuroscience's Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP)

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. See the organization’s website for its latest information.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is the world's leading professional association of scientists and physicians devoted to advancing the understanding of the brain and nervous system. A non-profit organization founded in 1969, the Society now has nearly 42,000 members in more than 90 countries worldwide, and 130-plus local and regional chapters. SfN's mission is to create venues where great science is shared; support professional development of neuroscientists at all career levels; promote public education and general education in neuroscience research; and inform policymakers about recent research developments and their implications for public policy, societal benefit, and continued scientific progress.

The Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP) is at the heart of the SfN mission to support the professional development of neuroscientists at all stages of their careers and throughout their scientific "life cycle". The program provides structured, individualized mentoring activities; financial and programmatic support aimed at increasing scientific knowledge and career development skills; and a professional network designed to foster a shared sense of community critical to managing environmental barriers to success. Mentees receive membership in the SfN and travel support to the SfN annual meetings where they are introduced to their mentors.

Over 30 years, the NSP has nurtured, funded, and prepared for success nearly 600 young minority neuroscientists at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels ( of whom 50 percent are women and 50 percent are men). Over this time period, total minority membership in SfN has nearly tripled from 2.6 percent to 7.3 percent. To mark its 30th anniversary, the NSP program sent surveys to 300 alumni (the response rate was 52 percent from all cohorts over 30 years) and report the following information: All NSP scholars responding to the survey report having completed the Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree; seventy-five percent of respondents are employed in an academic institution (the remaining 25 percent are employed in professional scientific or health-related sectors, including private organizations, research institutes, government agencies, hospitals, other non-profit institutions, and biotech/pharmaceutical companies); and women NSP scholars are as likely as men to achieve scientific success, suggesting that the NSP may be especially effective in helping women progress in academic careers.

To assess shorter-term outcomes, the NSP sent a similar survey to all but one of the 96 scholars participating in the program during 2002 to 2008. Over 60 of the scholars have received institutional or national research fellowships; half remain in graduate-level training and half hold either academic faculty positions or work in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors, medicine or government; and 80 percent of the respondents have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Erich Jarvis, the organizational representative for this award, is a former scholar in the Neuroscience Scholars Program, and is a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation Alan T. Waterman award for outstanding young researchers.