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Directors



Erika Binger 
has been a member of McKnight’s board of directors since 1994, and served as board chair from 2004-2008.Erika is the daughter of Mac and Pat Binger and currently lives in California. In addition to her work at McKnight, Erika has a diverse background in mentoring programs and youth athletics. She is an honorary board member of Bolder Options, a mentoring program that aims to redirect and change youth behavior through running and biking. She also helped create the Minnesota Coalition for Adolescent Females, has coached youth sports, tutored at North High School, and developed the V3 Youth Triathlon Team for inner-city youth.

Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D. is the Chief Scientific Officer of Neuroscience at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Research in the Ehlers Lab aims to unlock the molecular mechanisms by which brain cell connections adapt during learning, and how collections of neurons wire together to propagate electrical signals that encode our memories, experiences, and emotions, and how such mechanisms go awry in disorders of brain development, mood, perception, and memory. Current efforts are focused on mechanisms of neuronal membrane trafficking and glutamatergic synapse plasticity implicated in Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and autism. Dr. Ehlers received a B.S. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Thomas M. Jessell
, Ph.D., is professor of neuroscience, biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia University. He is also an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Jessell's work addresses the assembly and organization of sensory-motor circuits in the mammalian spinal cord. Born in England, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He shared the March-of-Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology in 2001 with another McKnight Endowment Fund board member, Corey Goodman, for advancing the science that underlies understanding of birth defects.

Kelsey Martin, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and the chair of the Biological Chemistry department at University of California, Los Angeles. Kelsey’s research focuses on how memory is stored in the brain. Experiences change the strength and number of synaptic connections in the brain and the thinking is that memories are encoded in these connections. Kelsey received her undergraduate degree (in English and American Language and Literature) from Harvard University. She received her medical degree and her Ph.D. (in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry) from Yale University. Kelsey was a postdoc in Eric Kandel’s lab. Kelsey has a number of NARSAD awards, including the 2011 Distinguished Investigator Award and the 2007 Independent Investigator Award.

Markus Meister, Ph.D., is the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Meister’s research focuses on the circuits of the retina and the olfactory system, and he was one of the first scientists to use multi-electrode arrays to record from retinal ganglion cells. His current research looks at which of the pathways that come out of the retina control which behaviors, and if there is a link between the processing of vision that occurs early in the eye and how the animal functions in its environment using the visual system. Dr. Meister received the Golden Brain Award for Vision and Brain Research and the Lawrence C. Katz prize for Innovative Research in Neuroscience.

J. Anthony Movshon, Ph.D., University Professor and SilverProfessor in the Center for Neural Science at New York University, is bestknown for his pathbreaking work on how the brain encodes and decodes visualinformation and in the mechanisms that put that information to use in thecontrol of behavior. He received his B.A. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychologyfrom Cambridge University, where he worked with Colin Blakemore. Among hishonors are the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience, theRank Prize for Optoelectronics, and the António Champalimaud Vision Award. Heis a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy ofArts and Sciences.

Carla J. Shatz
, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biological Sciences and Neurobiology at Stanford University, and the Director of the Bio-X Program. Dr. Shatz has made key contributions to understanding the mechanisms that guide the formation of precise connections in the brain of higher mammals. Her work has provided an important link between the mechanisms of plasticity during development and those used later in learning and memory. A former president of the Society for Neuroscience, she is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Philosophical Society.

Wendy Suzuki , Ph.D., is a Professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Her research focuses on how the brain allows us to form and retain new associative memories. She received her undergraduate degree in Physiology and Human Anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1987, studying with Prof. Marion C. Diamond, a leader in the field of brain plasticity. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from U.C. San Diego and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. Among other honors, Dr. Suzuki received the Troland Research Award and the Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Huda Y. Zoghbi, M.D., is a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Neurology, Neuroscience, and Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She applies the tools of modern genetics to understand brain development and the causes of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Rett syndrome and spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). Zoghbi's work in neurodevelopment led to the discovery of the gene Math1, which governs the development of several components of the proprioceptive pathway as well as hair cells in the inner ear. She is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a member of the Institute of Medicine, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.