BIDMC Neuroscientist Mark Andermann PhD Receives McKnight Scholar Award

BIDMC Contact: Esther Kim  Phone: 617-667-7367; Email:

MAY 23, 2016


National award supports research into therapies for obesity


BOSTON – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) neuroscientist Mark Andermann, PhD, has received a 2016 McKnight Scholar Award from The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience in support of his innovative research into the ways the brain notices and acts on images relating to food, especially when an individual is hungry.

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience encourages research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain can be accurately diagnosed, prevented and treated. Each year, The McKnight Scholar Awards are granted to young scientists in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience.

"A McKnight Scholar Award is one of the most prestigious early-career honors that a young neuroscientist can receive," said Anthony Movshon, PhD, chair of the award committee and professor at New York University. "This year's Scholars are a superbly talented group, with as much promise as any selected in the past. Their work will help us to understand the brain's function in health and in disease, and will shape the neuroscience of the future."

“It’s truly an honor to be named one of six recipients of this year’s McKnight Scholar Awards and for the efforts of the talented researchers in my lab to be recognized in this way,” said Andermann, who is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “There is an urgent need, now more than ever, for additional therapies that directly tackle the effects of constant access to junk food and junk food marketing on brain function and on obesity. This grant will be crucial in expanding our research in this area.”

“There is a natural inclination for humans to pay attention to the things their bodies tell them they need, especially food,” he said. “During hunger, selective attention to unhealthy food cues can result in an individual consuming more calories than needed. In individuals who suffer from obesity or eating disorders, this over-attention to food cues can persist, even after having eaten a meal.”

Previously, Andermann and colleagues developed a method involving two-photon calcium imaging through a periscope to study hundreds of neurons in a mouse brain. They found that the brain's response to images associated with food differed depending on whether the mouse was hungry or sated. Andermann is now collaborating with experts in the brain circuitry that controls hunger in the neighboring laboratory of Brad Lowell, MD, PhD, also of BIDMC, in order to study the insular cortex in search of ways to prevent cravings for unhealthy foods.

Andermann earned his undergraduate degree from McGill University and his PhD in Biophysics with a specialization in neuroscience from Harvard University. Andermann has received a number of other awards, including a Pew Fellowship in the Biomedical Sciences, a Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation award, a Klarman Family Foundation Grant in Eating Disorders Research, and an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.

About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding.

BIDMC is in the community with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, MetroWest Medical Center, Signature Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and the Jackson Laboratory. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit