​Schaefer Research Scholars Program Awards

The Schaefer Research Scholars Program Awards, made possible through a generous bequest from Dr. Ludwig Schaefer, are made annually to four research scientists who have distinguished themselves in the science of human physiology, as broadly defined and whose current work is of outstanding merit with significant academic distinction. Their proposed research must illuminate the field. Two awards are made to research scientists residing or working in North or South America and two awards are made to research scientists residing or working outside of North or South America. Each award consists of a $50,000 cash prize and up to $200,000 in direct research support.


The faculty member must research in the general area of human physiology (broadly defined), be of outstanding merit and academic distinction in the prior year, and exhibit the likelihood of outstanding future research. Internal candidates must be VP&S Officers of Instruction on tenure track but not yet tenured. Early to mid-career level faculty with independent papers will have an advatage in the selection process. For candidates from outside VP&S, consideration will be given to those candidates who are willing and able to spend an academic year at VP&S or to collaborate with VP&S researchers. Preference will be given to faculty with a minimum of two years at Columbia.

How to apply

Please check our Infoready page in the fall for open competions.

Previous Awardees


  • Iok In Christine Chio, PhD; "Methionine proteome reactivity in cancer induced cachexia"
  • Xuebing Wu, PhD; "Noncoding translation surveillance in tumor immunogenicity and immunotherapy"
  • Stéphane Nedelec, PhD; "Human motor neuron diversity and its implications for the etiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis"
  • Ofer Yizhar, PhD; "A light-driven system for studying neuropeptide signaling using hybrid Opto-GPCRs" 

For more information about the 2024 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Chao Lu, Phd; "Reversal of the epigenetic clock for anti-aging therapy"
  • Mijo Simunovic, PhD; "Modeling embryogenesis with stem cells: a new frontier in studying human development"
  • Jacqueline M. Gulbis, PhD;  "A pathway from discovery to treatment of Kir4.1-linked disease"
  • Tomer Hertz, PhD; "Characterizing tissue specific antibody repertoires"
  • Robert Tampé, PhD;  "Conformational landscape of ER transport machineries under altered physiological conditions"

For more information about the 2023 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Benjamin Izar, MD, PhD; "Dissecting the cancer-immune synapse with combinatorial genome-editing and single-cell genomics"
  • Edward Owusu-Ansah, PhD; "Dissecting the role of AIF in the biogenesis of OXPHOS complexes"
  • Denis David, PhD; "Novel pharmacological drugs for psychiatric disease targeting  glutamatergic and serotonergic transmission in the hippocampus"
  • Shimon Marom, MD, PhD; "Cellular function: invariance and adaptation given microscopic variation"

For more information about the 2022 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Samuel Sternberg, PhD; "Targeted DNA integration without double-strand breaks using CRISPR-transposons."
  • Tingting Yang, PhD; "Investigating interacting partners of bestrophin channels."
  • Meritxell Canals Buj, PhD; "Determining efficacy thresholds for the acute actions of opioids in vivo."
  • Caghan Kizil, PhD, MSc; "The role of Alzheimer's disease variants in regenerative neurogenesis."


  • Emily Mace, PhD; "Drawing the roadmap of human natural killer cell development."
  • Markus Siegelin, MD, Dr.med; "Epigenetic targeting of the Warburg effect leads to therapeutic vulnerabilities."
  • Etienne Jacotot, PhD, MSc; "Role and targeting Caspase-2 in Alzheimer disease."
  • David Roper, PhD; "Molecular machines that synthesize the bacterial cell wall."

For more information about the 2020 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Swarnali Acharyya, PhD; "Identifying mechanisms of brain metastasis."
  • Luke Berchowitz, PhD; "Toward a molecular understanding of intracellular amyloid regulation."
  • Mohammad Amani, PhD; "Synaptic effects of ATF4 regulation in Alzheimer's disease."
  • Christian Lüscher, MD; "Dopamine and serotonin modulation of population activity in ventral and dorsal striatum in motivation and anhedonia."

For more information about the 2019 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Alberto Ciccia, PhD; "Analysis of clinically relevant gene variants using CRISPR-mediated base editing."
  • Harris Wang, PhD; "Systematic dissection of xenobiotic metabolism by the gut microbiome."
  • Baojie Li, PhD; "The identity and function of mesenchymal stem cell subgroups."
  • Maria Concetta Miniaci, MD; "Imaging noradrenergic synaptic function at cerebellar synapses during behavior."

For more information about the 2018 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Piero Dalerba, MD; "Using ‘Single-Cell RNA-seq’ to Generate a ‘Transcriptional Atlas’ of the Human Colon Epithelium and Resolve the Cellular Origins of Human CDX2neg Colon Carcinomas."
  • Lei Ding, PhD; "Understanding the liver hematopoietic stem cell niche."
  • Jonathan Robert David Lane, PhD; "Mechanisms of biased agonism: identifying drug-specific dopamine receptor signaling complexes in the brain."

For more information about the 2017 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Ivaylo Ivanov, PhD; "Keeping a healthy gut: Commensal bacteria know-hows."
  • Fillipo Mancia, PhD; "Structural basis of receptor-mediated cellular vitamin A uptake."
  • Anna Moroni, PhD; "Expression and functional characterization of engineered blue-light-gated K+ channels in neurons."
  • Andrew Trevelyan, D. Phil, MA, MB, BCh; "The role of chloride dysregulation in epileptic circuits."


  • Joji Fujisaki, MD, PhD; "The Immune Privilege of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Niche."
  • Ellen Lumpkin, PhD; "How Do Mechanosensory Neurons Work in Concert with Epidermal Cells to Encode Tactile Information?"
  • Rony Paz, PhD; "Common Neural Representations of Fear States Across Model Systems."
  • Paul Roesch, PhD; "Similarities and Differences of Bacterial and Human Transcription: Translation Coupling Systems."

For more information about the 2015 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Randy Bruno, PhD; "The Behavioral Roles of Neocortical Layers."
  • Alla Grishok, PhD; "The Disease-Related Chromatin-Modifying DOT1 Complex: Investigation of Its Basic Function."
  • Alain Lacampagne, PhD; "Functional Analysis of UNC-68 in c.Elegans: Regulation in Aging-Dependent Muscle Weakness."
  • Beatrice Vallone, PhD; "Structure and Function of the SRD5A Family of Enzymes that Mediate Testosterone Action."
  • Ivete Yotova, PhD; "Epigenetic Changes in the Pathogenesis of Endometriosis-Associated Pain."

For more information about the 2014 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Francesca Bartolini, PhD; "Regulation of Microtubule Stability by Amyloid Abeta Peptide."
  • Qing R. Fan, PhD; "Structural Studies of Human Extracellular Calcium-Sensing Receptor."
  • Julien Zuber, MD, PhD; "Long Term Success of Intestinal Transplantation."

For more information about the 2013 awardees, please read the CUIMC newsroom announcement.


  • Paul Albert, PhD; "Optogenetically Targeted Serotonin Release for Treatment of Depression and Anxiety."
  • Antonio Feliciello, MD; "AKAPs and Human Glioblastoma: Novel Targets and Therapeutic Opportunities."
  • Rebecca Haeusler, PhD; "Role of 12-hydroxylated Bile Acids in Dyslipidemia and Insulin Resistance."
  • Morgan Naghavi, PhD; "Microtubule-Based Trafficking of Viruses ."
  • Alexander Sobolevsky, PhD; "Structural and Functional Studies of TRP Channels."


  • Yinon Ben-Neriah, MD, PhD; "Maintenance of the Intestinal Barrier & Its Failure in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases."
  • Eero Castren, MD, PhD; "Network Integration of Adult-Born Hippocampal Neurons: The Role of Target Innervation and Neuronal Activity."
  • Christoph Kellendonk, PhD; "Consequences of Maternal Immune Response for the Maturation and Integration of Cortical Interneurons."