Trust scholar Subbulakshmi Sankarasubramanian wins grant programme
Subbuklakshmi Sankarasubramanian from India, who is undertaking a PhD in Biological Science at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit under the supervision of Dr. Michael Anderson with the support of a Cambridge International Scholarship, has been successful in her application to a competitive grant programme offered by the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, Texas.
Subbuklakshmi was selected as a finalist from her initial application, and was flown out to Texas with her supervisor to compete in ‘BrainStorm’, a pitch competition event that connects neuroscience researchers with the coaching and capital they need to fund their research projects.
Subbuklakshmi delivered a 10 minute presentation to hundreds of donors as part of a gala evening, competing against two Professors, one from Northwestern University, another from Johns Hopkins University. In her first ever talk, she won!
Subbulakshmi and Dr Michael Anderson received the top award of $30,000 for their proposed research on how the brain suppresses traumatic memories that cause emotional pain. In this research, they strive to pinpoint the region in the right frontal lobe region of the brain that acts as a “protective shield” in inhibiting unwanted thoughts, memories and actions. Individuals with traumatic injuries to this region of the brain often experience difficulties in regulating consciousness of unwanted thoughts and feelings, making them vulnerable to depression and relived traumas. Subbulakshmi and Dr Michael Anderson plan to confirm the region in the brain that is involved in pushing away unwanted memories and look for ways to enhance the shielding effect against painful thoughts.
Speaking about the competition, Subbulakshmi said “this process has been an eye-opening experience for me. It motivated us to refine our research concept as we competed against the best of the best to get to the finalist stage of the Mind Science Foundation’s competition”.
Her supervisor Dr Michael Anderson commented “this award is critical for Subbulakshmi’s research and will contribute to her development as a scientist”.
The Mind Science Foundation’s mission is to accelerate research on consciousness through rigorous scientific exploration. The new pitch competition helped highlight novel approaches in a setting that provided researchers the platform to explain why their concept deserves funding. The Foundation’s members and board members donated to the pool of prize money for the inaugural pitch competition, many of whom were in the audience.