Baljit Khakh, professor of physiology and neurobiology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has been named a 2018 Allen Distinguished Investigator by the Allen Institute. The award provides $1.5 million over three years to support his research on astrocytes, a star-shaped brain cell that may play an important role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Khakh’s laboratory will tackle the first systematic study of astrocytes, determine how these cells influence neuronal activity, and explore how astrocyte functions are altered in mouse models for Alzheimer’s disease, potentially uncovering new therapeutic targets for people with the disorder.

Khakh is one of nine scientists honored this year by the Allen Institute.