Foundation for the NIH Bestows the Inaugural Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists to Dr. Michael Fox

North Bethesda, MD, October 25, 2018 The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) awarded to Michael Fox, M.D., Ph.D., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School the inaugural Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists (Trailblazer Prize) at the FNIH Annual Fall Board Dinner in Washington, D.C. Dr. Fox received the Trailblazer Prize and a $10,000 honorarium for pioneering innovative techniques to map human brain connectivity that can be translated into new treatments for neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression. The Trailblazer Prize is made possible by a generous donation from John I. Gallin, M.D., and Elaine Gallin, Ph.D., to the FNIH.

Through the Trailblazer Prize, the FNIH celebrates the outstanding contributions of early career clinician-scientists in the United States, and it seeks to increase awareness of the critical role they play in bringing innovations from the laboratory to the clinic. Dr. Fox and prize finalists Daniel Evan Bauer, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, and Jaehyuk Choi, M.D., Ph.D., Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern University, were invited to give presentations at a special event on Capitol Hill to inform policymakers about their paradigm-shifting research and the need to inspire the next-generation of clinician-scientists to join the field.

“The FNIH is delighted to bestow the first ever Trailblazer Prize to Dr. Fox for his ground-breaking work that has the potential to transform how we treat neurologic and psychiatric diseases,” said Steven M. Paul, M.D., Chairman of the Board, FNIH. “We know that the inspiring research and clinical applications of the work of Drs. Fox, Bauer and Choi will help raise awareness about the essential role clinician-scientists play in medicine, as they translate important research into new and more effective therapies.”

The FNIH’s Charles A. Sanders Legacy Fund has awarded these three finalists with $5,000 in support for their laboratories. Dr. Fox was selected as the winner of the Trailblazer Prize by a jury of five distinguished biomedical clinical-scientists, chaired by Dr. Paul. In addition to Dr. Paul, other members of the esteemed jury include:

  • Barry Coller, M.D., David Rockefeller Professor of Medicine, Head of the Allen and Frances Adler Laboratory of Blood and Vascular Biology, Physician-in-Chief of the Rockefeller University Hospital, Vice President for Medical Affairs, The Rockefeller University • Helen H. Hobbs, M.D., Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • John I. Gallin, M.D., NIH Associate Director for Clinical Research and Chief Scientific Officer of the NIH Clinical Center
  • Michael J. Welsh, M.D., Director, Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, University of Iowa

Dr. Fox is Director of the Laboratory for Brain Network Imaging and Modulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. His three key discoveries to-date are changing the way we diagnose and treat brain disease. First, he helped develop a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique for mapping human brain circuits based on spontaneous fluctuations in brain activity. This led to the Human Connectome Project, a national effort to map neural connectivity in the human brain. Second, he used this connectivity map to link brain lesions to specific circuits, identifying the source of different neuropsychiatric symptoms including movement disorders, delusions, pain, among others. Finally, he used this map to link brain stimulation sites to symptom relief, showing that brain connectivity can be used to identify optimal stimulation sites for Parkinson’s disease and depression. The stimulation target for depression has already changed clinical practice at some centers. Dr. Fox earned a Ph.D. in Systems Neuroscience and an M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, following undergraduate studies in electrical engineering at The Ohio State University.

For more information about the Trailblazer Prize, visit


About the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health creates and manages alliances with public and private institutions in support of the mission of the NIH, the world’s premier medical research agency. The Foundation, also known as the FNIH, works with its partners to accelerate biomedical research and strategies against diseases and health concerns in the United States and across the globe. The FNIH organizes and administers research projects; supports education and training of new researchers; organizes educational events and symposia; and administers a series of funds supporting a wide range of health issues. Established by Congress in 1990, the FNIH is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For additional information about the FNIH, please visit