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Hopkins neuroscientist nabs research grant

Gul Dolen, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Gul Dolen, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

A neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has scored a $300,000 grant to fund her autism research over the next three years.

Dr. Gul Dolen, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the medical school, was named one of 15 Searle Scholars for 2015, the university announced Thursday.

Dolen will study autism by seeking out the brain cells responsible for the pleasure we take in social interactions; this will then help her test whether autistic patients avoid social interactions because they don’t feel this pleasure in the normal way.

Dolen got her M.D., Ph.D  from Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then received further post-doctoral training at Stanford University. She joined the Hopkins faculty in 2014.

The Searle Scholar awards are named for the late president of the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co., and winners are selected by a panel of 12 scientists.