Posted by Jim Walsh:

Recognizing that it can be frustratingly difficult for researchers to get the kind of money they need to take their ideas beyond the idea stage, the Wallin family has created the Discovery Fund and four University of Minnesota neuroscience researchers have been awarded the round of awards.

They will be honored Monday evening during a ceremony at the university’s McNamara Alumni Center.

“The fund is actually a novel way to get funds to our researchers,” said Justin Paquette, a spokesman for the Academic Health Center.

The Wallin Discovery Fund will provide pilot grants to University of Minnesota neuroscience researchers. The fund provides an annually-recurring $500,000 gift to the university, which in turn uses the funding to support the researchers. To fund their work, researchers often secure seed grants from smaller trusts or organizations, but they can be difficult to receive. Larger funding sources such as the National Institutes of Health normally don’t fund research until after initial data gathering or demonstrated promise of future results, so funding start-up projects becomes a challenging cycle.

One researcher benefiting from the new fund, Kenneth Baker, Ph.D., has been awarded $125,000 to support the development of new therapies to facilitate recovery from severe drug addiction. In the study, U of M researchers will examine the effects of deep brain stimulation on select portions of the brain that are most affected by drug exposure. Stimulation of these regions may reduce motivation for the drug and restore minimal functioning. Deep brain stimulation is widely used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Other recipients, and their research, include:

$150,000 to Gulin Oz, Ph.D.: “Noninvasive Assessment of Cerebral Energetics in Neurodegeneration”

$135,000 to Yasushi Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D.: “Afferent Control of Cortical Neurogenesis in the Mouse”

$90,000 to A. David Redish, Ph.D.: “Nanowire Tetrodes”

For more information about the Discovery Fund and the Wallin Family, go to:

Jim Walsh covers medical technology. He can be reached at