Elaine Hsiao, the De Logi professor of Biological Sciences and an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College, has been named a 2022 Blavatnik National Awards Laureate in life sciences by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. The award honors Hsiao’s pioneering and interdisciplinary research that connects the gut microbiome and immune system to brain development and behavior.

Hsiao’s research seeks to understand how biomolecules called metabolites produced by gut microbes influence the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Microbes that live harmoniously in our digestive tracts produce metabolites as byproducts of their normal biological functions. Some of these metabolites moderate the levels of neuromodulatory molecules, including neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. Hsiao has shown that changes in the gut microbiome can therefore have far-reaching effects on neurological function and complex behaviors.

The award comes with $250,000, the largest unrestricted scientific award for America’s most innovative, young faculty-ranked scientists and engineers. The Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists will celebrate the 2022 laureates and finalists in a ceremony on Sept. 19 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.