McKnight Clinical Translational Research Scholarship Winners

Meet the scholars

The McKnight scholars represent the best and brightest early career physician scientists, and their projects have been vetted and selected by the American Academy of Neurology’s Science Committee and three Donor Trustees of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

The current McKnight scholars are engaged in interdisciplinary research projects that range from studies exploring the role of sleep in memory formation, to the impact of kidney disease on cognitive impairment and memory loss, to the correlation between hearing loss and scam susceptibility in older adults. Hailing from seven universities across the country, their interdisciplinary research projects are advancing the understanding of age-related cognitive decline and memory loss.

Meet the 2022 Scholars


Headshot of Michael Kleinman

Michael Kleinman, PhD
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL

Project: Assessing Trajectories of Discrete Measures of Speech Behavior in Age-Related Decline
As we age, aspects of cognition slow, resulting in difficulty connecting thoughts with the words to express the. While some degree of speech degradation is associated with both age-related and pathological decline due to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, the degradation due to age-related decline has not been well studied. Dr. Kleiman’s research will study speech behavior in older adults to identify the social and medical factors that cause a decline in speech. Identifying these factors may lead to the development of remote, virtual, or phone screenings that can identify pathological cognitive decline.
Angelika Schlanger, PhD Headshot

Sarah Szymkowicz, PhD
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

Project: Non-Invasive Neuromodulation to Enhance Targeted Cognitive Remediation in Older Adults with Depression
In older adults, depression is associated with difficulties in learning and memory, executive function, and processing speed. Of these, declines in executive function are most prominent and correspond with a higher risk of cognitive and functional decline and transition to dementia, as well as structural and functional brain alterations. While there are currently no FDA- approved treatments for older adults with depression, both novel computerized cognitive remediation (nCCR) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have shown promise. Dr. Szymkowicz will research whether combining tDCS with nCCR enhances the brain activity and cognitive functions of older adults with depression, potentially leading to new treatments for depression in older adults.

Past Recipients

Headshot of Reem Waziry
2021 Recipient

Reem Waziry, MBBCh, MPH, PhD
Columbia University, New York, NY


Project: Biological Age and Cognitive Resilience: with Special Emphasis on Ischemic Stroke Survivors
Headshot of Wai-Ying Wendy Yau
2021 Recipient

Wai-Ying Wendy Yau, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA


Project: Quantifying Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Aging Mediated by White Matter Injury and Tau
Headshot of Brian Baxter
2020 Recipient

Brian Baxter, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital, Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Project: Characterizing and enhancing sleep oscillations to improve memory: developing a scalable treatment for healthy aging and age-related memory loss
Headshot of Sarah Getz
2020 Recipient

Sarah Getz, PhD
University of Miami Department of Neurology, Instructor of Neuropsychology


Project: Neurocognitive correlates of scam susceptibility in age-related hearing loss
Headshot of Christian Camargo
2019 Recipient

Christian Camargo, MD
University of Miami Department of Neurology, Assistant Professor of Clinical


Project: Reducing the effects of aging on cognition with therapeutic intervention of an oral nutrient – the REACTION Study
Headshot of Sanaz Sedaghat
2019 Recipient

Sanaz Sedaghat, PhD
Northwestern University, Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology


Project: Cognitive aging in kidney impairment: role of uremic toxins
Headshot of Kimberly Albert
2018 Recipient

Kimberly Albert, PhD
Vanderbilt University, Research Instructor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Project: Changes in attention network dynamics related to performance in aging
Headshot of Brice McConnell
2018 Recipient

Brice McConnell, MD, PhD
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Neurology


Project: Development of transcranial electrical stimulation for modulation of sleep and cognitive performance in aging adults
Funding Guidelines

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The Foundation champions research to better understand and eliminate the effects of age-related cognitive decline and memory loss. Find out how you can join the team of researchers working to advance our mission of helping people achieve a lifetime of cognitive health.
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