Xin Jin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, received the Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award from the Society for Neuroscience today during the society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The $25,000 prize is awarded annually to two young scientists whose research includes significant international collaboration and shows exceptional potential for advancing the field.

Dr. Jin’s honor stems from his collaboration with Rui M. Costa, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Program at the Gulbenkian Institute in Portugal on a study that advanced knowledge of how the brain controls movement.

The findings have promising implications for disorders where these signals break down, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

The study, published in July 2010 in Nature, monitored activity in the basal ganglia of mice. These brain structures help start and control movement.

Previous studies investigated and reported changes in the basal ganglia during movement.  Dr. Jin’s study was the first to discover that certain neurons in the basal ganglia show a change in activity specifically before mice begin the first step in a sequence of actions and again right before they perform the last step.

“Dr. Jin’s research will open new avenues of research for the treatment and prevention of movement disorders,” says Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of NIAAA. “We are pleased that the Society for Neuroscience has recognized Dr. Jin’s important contributions with this prestigious award.”

The award, established in 2005, recognizes graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or research associates who are U.S. citizens working abroad or non-U.S. citizens working in the United States. Dr. Jin began his fellowship at NIAAA’s Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience (LIN) in 2007, after completing his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

“It is a great honor for me to receive the Gruber Award. I am so grateful for the support of Dr. Costa, LIN chief Dr. David Lovinger, and other colleagues in the lab as well as to the NIAAA intramural research program for constant support,” says Dr. Jin.

Learn more about Dr. Jin’s research study.