Press Release

Three Pew Scholars Honored by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience


The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience recently named the six recipients of its 2014 McKnight Scholar Award—including three Pew biomedical scholars. Robert Froemke (’12), Takaki Komiyama (’11), and Ilana Witten (’13) will each receive $225,000 over three years to conduct research aimed at diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the brain. 

Robert Froemke

Robert Froemke, an assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine’s Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, was selected for his research on the neurological mechanisms underlying social behavior in mammals.

He focuses on the vocal signals exchanged between mother mice and their offspring, and how changes in hormones can lead to neglect, which can have lifelong physical and mental consequences.


Takaki Komiyama

Takaki Komiyama, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, studies the role of the brain’s motor cortex in the activity of learning physical processes such as playing tennis.

His work could eventually lead to the development of treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other disorders related to movement and learning. 

Ilana Witten

Ilana Witten, an assistant professor at Princeton University, is working to uncover the neural basis of working memory—the ability to remember and manipulate information over short periods of time.

Her long-term goal is to understand what motivates behaviors in the brain, which could have applications in treating addiction.

To learn more about Pew’s biomedical programs, visit