(Pictured from left): Kathryn West, Dinesh Sivakolundu, Lyndahl Himes, Susan Larkin, Katie Hinds, and Namrata Das.

The Friends of BrainHealth, a circle of donors supporting the Center for BrainHealth® at UT Dallas, announced five $25,000 Distinguished New Scientist Awards at the annual Friends of BrainHealth Scientist Selection Luncheon held at the Dallas Country Club. The scientists will use the funding to lead independently designed research studies:

Namrata Das, MD, MPH
Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist

The Role of Sleep in Brain Energy Metabolism and Cognition in Individuals at Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease


Lyndahl Himes, MS – Katherine and Bob Penn Distinguished New Scientist

Neural Mechanisms of Mindfulness Meditation and Depression


Katie Hinds, MS, CCC-SLP and Susan Larkin, MS, CCC-SLP – Jennifer and Peter Roberts Distinguished New Scientist

Starting Strong: Using SMART to Empower College Students’ Personal and Academic Success 


Dinesh Sivakolundu, MDLinda and Joel Robuck Distinguished New Scientist

Identifying Biomarkers for Early Estimation of Brain Age


Kathryn West, PhD Visionary Friend Distinguished New Scientist

Understanding Neural Mechanisms of Multiple Sclerosis

Thirteen graduate students, doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows at the Center for BrainHealth competed for the awards. Other finalists included Dr. Shikha Prashad, a postdoctoral research scientist in Dr. Francesca Filbey’s lab and Mathew Kmiecik, a doctoral student and teaching assistant in Dr. Dan Krawczyk’s lab. Prashad’s proposal would examine the influence of long-term cannabis use on psychomotor skills for driving. Kmiecik’s project would analyze existing data in new ways to better understand the effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) on memory.

“The tremendous support from our special Friends of BrainHealth propels budding brain health experts to realize their fuller potential as a researcher,” said Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair. “Through the competition for the Friends Award, these early-stage scientists learn how to convey a compelling vision and the life-changing impact their work could have on humanity. The experience is invaluable to their future careers.”

The Friends of BrainHealth has raised more than $2.5 million for research since its inception in 2008. For more information about joining Friends, please visit centerforbrainhealth.org/friends.