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Office of Neuroscience Research > Education and Events > The James L. O'Leary Prize for Excellence in Neuroscience Research

The James L. O'Leary Prize for Excellence in Neuroscience Research

2015 Competition

The 2015 O’Leary Prize Competition will be held on Tuesday, March 31.  The guest judge will be Jeffrey Neil (Harvard).

Congratulations to the 2014 O'Leary Prize Winners!

Josiah Gerdts, graduate student in the laboratory of Jeff Milbrandt (Department of Genetics)
"SARM1 function in axonal degeneration"

Michael Vasek, graduate student in the laboratory of Robyn Klein (Department of Medicine)
"I can’t find my keys cheese: Modeling spatial memory impairments after recovery from acute West Nile virus encephalitis"


Dr. James L. O'Leary joined the faculty of the Department of Anatomy at Washington University in 1928.  In 1948 he joined the faculty of the Department of Neurology, becoming Head of the Department in 1946, remaining until 1971.  For many years, neuroscience research at Washington University was conducted by Dr. O'Leary and his colleagues.  They developed an interdisciplinary and interactive approach to the study of the nervous system that continues today.  Dr. O'Leary's colleagues, admirers, and former students established a fund in 1975 to award a prize each year to a graduate student and/or postdoctoral fellow or resident for excellence in neuroscience research.

2014 Competition

The 2014 Competition is now closed. Stay tuned for instructions for the 2015 O'Leary Prize Competition.

Instructions to apply

Two prizes of $1000 each were awarded for the most original and important accomplishments in neuroscience research by a predoctoral or postdoctoral fellow.  Current Washington University predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and residents were invited to submit:

  • A summary of the research, including a title page indicating the applicant's name, preceptor, campus box, telephone number, email address and status (e.g. graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, resident).  The summary itself should begin with a 250 word abstract and be no longer than 5 double spaced pages, including figures but not references.  A separate listing of no more than 10 references is allowed. an application electronic file (as a pdf) to
  • In addition, a letter from the applicant's preceptor attesting to the contents of the summary should accompany the submission.  A letter of recommendation is not needed; just attestation to the work.

The summary and letter of attestation should be submitted by e-mail to Brad Schlaggar at


Finalists presented their work at the 37th Annual O'Leary Prize competition on Monday, March 3.  Steve Mennerick, PhD (WUSTL Psychiatry) was the returning O'Leary judge.

The 8 finalists for the 2014 O’Leary Competition:

Sarah DeVos, laboratory of Tim Miller (Neurology)
Josiah Gerdts, laboratory of Jeff Milbrandt (Genetics)
Manu Goyal MD, laboratory of Marc Raichle (Radiology)
Deanna Greene PhD, laboratories of Kevin Black (Psychiatry) and Brad Schlaggar (Neurology)
Debajit Saha PhD, laboratory of Baranidharan Raman (Biomedical Engineering)
Michael Vasek, laboratory of Robyn Klein (Medicine)
Frans Vinberg PhD, laboratory of Vladimir Kefalov (Ophthalmology)
Pei Sabrina Xu, laboratory of Tim Holy (Anatomy &  Neurobiology)

O'Leary Prize Recipients
(G=Grad Student; P=Post Doc)



Lab preceptor/Department


Josiah Gerdts (G)
Michael Vasek (G)

Jeff Milbrandt - Genetics
Robyn Klein - Internal Medicine

Cindy Montana (G)
Jonathan Power (G)

Joseph Corbo - Pathology & Immunology
Steve Petersen - Neurology

Travis Hage (G)

Steve Nelson (P)

Larry Salkoff - Anatomy & Neurobiology

Kathleen McDermott - Psychology


Joseph Castellano (G)

Cong (Lucy) Li (G)

David Holtzman - Neurology

Naren Ramanan - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Albert Misko (G)

Julian Meeks (P)

Robert Baloh - Neurology

Timothy Holy - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Bradley Miller (G)

Jin-shan Wang (P)

Aaron DiAntonio - Developmental Biology

Vladimir Kevalov - Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences


Rebecca Hendrickson (G)

YanGang Sun (P)

Timothy Holy - Anatomy & Neurobiology

Zhuo-Feng Chen - Anesthesiology


Jacob Nadler (G)
Yong Gu (P)

Greg DeAngelis - Anatomy & Neurobiology
Greg DeAngelis/Dora Angelaki - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Richard Daniels (G)
Catherine Collins (P)

Aaron DiAntonio - Molec. Biol. & Pharmacology
Aaron DiAntonio - Molec. Biol. & Pharmacology


John Fryer (G)
Ethan Graf (G)
Botir Sagdullaev (P)

David Holtzman - Neurology
Ann Marie Craig - Anatomy & Neurobiology
Peter Lukasiewicz - Ophthalmology & Vis. Sci.


Jerry Nguyenkim (S)
Eric Leuthardt (P)

Greg DeAngelis - Anatomy & Neurobiology
Dan Moran - Biomedical Engineering


Terrance Kumer (G)
Belen Hurle (P)

Josh Sanes - Anatomy & Neurobiology
David Ornitz - Molec. Biol. & Pharmacology


Kit Wong (G)
Mark Walsh (G)
Jin-Yuan Sun (P)

Yi Rao - Anatomy & Neurobiology
Jeff Lichtman - Anatomy & Neurobiology
Ling-Gang Wu - Anesthesiology


Charles Harris (G)
Robert Burgess (P)

Eugene Johnson - Neurology
Josh Sanes - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Jeff Mumm (G)
Malu Tansey (P)

Raphael Kopan - Molec. Biol. & Pharmacology
Eugene Johnson - Neurology


William M. Kelley (G)
John Sun (P)

Steve Petersen - Neurology
Steve Highstein & Barbara Bohne - Otolaryngology


Rachel Easton (G)
Roberta Chiesa (p)

Eugene Johnson - Neurology
David Harris - Cell Biology & Physiology


Lisa Evans (G)
Bruce Patton (P)

Paul Bridgman - Anatomy & Neurobiology
Joshua Sanes -Anatomy & Neurobiology


Paul Kotzbauer (G)
Janice Brunstrom (P)

Jeff Milbrandt - Pathology and Eugene Johnson - Neurology
Alan Pearlman - Neurology


Randy Buckner (G)
Anatoli Lopatin (P)

Steve Petersen - Neurology
Colin Nichols - Cell Biology


Steve Mennerick (G)
Inmaculada Silos-Santiago (P)

Charles Zorumski - Psychiatry
William Snider Neurology


Thomas Carmichael (G)

Joel Price - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Maria Donoghue (G)

John Merlie - Molec. Biol. & Pharmacology and Josh Sanes - Anatomy & Neurobiology


John Butman (G)
Andrew Hershey (G)

Nobuo Suga - Biology
James Krause - Anatomy & Neurobiology


David Martin (G)
Alison Strack (G)

Eugene Johnson - Neurology, Molec. Biol & Pharm
Arthur Loewy - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Dale Hunter (G)

Anatomy & Neurobiology


Mark Rich (G)
Stephen Senft (G)

Jeff Lichtman - Anatomy & Neurobiology
Tom Woolsey  - Neurosurgery


Jonathan Mink (G)
Christine Wilcox (G)

Tom Thach - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Megumi Taniuchi (G)



John Olsen (G)
Ted Usden (G)

Nobuo Suga - Biology
Gerry Fischbach - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Pamala Manning (G)
Jeffrey Neil (G)

Arthur Loewy - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Steven Massey (G)
Eric Rubin (G)

Dale Purves - Physiology & Biophyiscs


James Schwob (G)

Joel Price - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Winthrop Sullivan, III (G)

Nobuo Suga - Biology


Michael Ariel (G)

Physiology & Biophysics


Jonathan Siegel (G)
Brent Stanfield (G)

Charles Molnar - Physiology & Biophysics
W. Maxwell Cowan - Anatomy & Neurobiology


Jeff Lichtman (G)

Dale Purves - Physiology & Biophysics