The Sammy Kuo Memorial Fund

About the Sammy Kuo Memorial Fund

Sammy Kuo was a young boy who was diagnosed with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a rare degenerative neurological disorder, when he was 13 years old. After Sammy passed away in 2006, his family set up a memorial fund in his memory at the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

The Sammy Kuo Memorial Fund awards prizes annually to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for the best neuroscience papers published during the past year. The winners are announced at the annual Stanford Neurosciences Institute Symposium each October. Sammy's family sincerely hopes that these grants will help encourage and contribute to basic research towards the development of effective therapies for individuals like Sammy.

For more information about the Sammy Kuo Prizes in Neuroscience at the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, please visit

Award Recipients


Postdoctoral Awardees

Paper of the Year

Peng Li

Krasnow lab

"The peptidergic control circuit for sighing"
Nature, 530: 293-297.

Finalist: Jae-Ick Kim, Ding lab

Finalist: Li Ye, Deisseroth lab

Honorable Mention: Anca Pasca, Palmer and Pasca labs

Graduate Awardees

Paper of the Year

Nicholas Kramer

Gitler lab

"Spt4 selectively regulates the expression of C9orf72 sense and antisense mutant transcripts"
Science, 353: 708-712.

Finalist: Pengpeng Li, Shen lab

Finalist: Jonathan Kao, Shenoy lab

Honorable Mention: Steven Sloan, Barres lab




Kevin Beier, Malenka and Luo labs

"Circuit Architecture of VTA Dopamin Neurons Revealed by Systematic Input-Output Mapping"
Cell, 162: 622-634.

Graduate Student

Kiah Hardcastle, Giocomo lab

"Environmental Boundaries as an Error Correction Mechanism for Grid Cells"
Neuron, 86: 827-839.



Han Mi Lee, Schatz lab

"Synapse Elimination and Learning Rules Co-Regulated by MHC Class I H2-Db", Nature, 509:195-200

Graduate Student

Matthew Figley, Gitler lab

"Profilin 1 Associates with Stress Granules and ALS-Linked Mutations Alter Stress Granule Dynamics", J. Neurosci, 34(24): 8083-8097



Nan Yang, Wernig lab

"Generation of oligodendroglial cells by direct lineage conversion", Nature Biotechnology,2013.

Graduate Student

Casey Guenther, Luo lab

"Permanent genetic access to transiently active neurons via TRAP: targeted recombination in active populations", Neuron, 2013.


Postdoctoral (tie)

Nicola Allen, Barres lab

"Astrocyteglypicans 4 and 6 promote formation of excitatory synapses via GluA1 and AMPA receptors", Nature, 2012.

Sergiu Pasca, Dolmetsch lab

"Using iPSC-derived neurons to uncover cellular phenotypes associated with Timothy syndrome", Nature Medicine, 2012.

Graduate Student

Poh Hui Chia, Shen lab

"NAB-1 instructs synapse assembly by linking adhesion molecules and F-actin to active zone proteins", Nature Neuroscience, 2012.



Kazunari Miyamichi, Luo lab

“Cortical representations of olfactory input by trans-synaptic tracing”, Nature, 2011.

Graduate Student

Saul Villeda, Wyss-Coray lab

“The aging systemic milieu negatively regulates neurogenesis and cognitive function”, Nature, 2011.



Mark Churchland, Shenoy lab

“Stimulus onset quenches neural variability: a widespread cortical phenomenon”, Nature Neuroscience, 2010.

Graduate student

Laura Prolo, Reimer lab

“The lysosomal sialic acid transporter sialin is required for normal CNS myelination”, Journal of Neuroscience, 2009.



Qi Zhang, Tsien lab

“The dynamic control of kiss-and-run and vesicular reuse probed with single nanoparticles”, Science, 2009.

Graduate student

Viviana Gradinaru and Murtaza Mogri, Deisseroth lab

“Optical deconstruction of Parkinsonian neural circuitry”, Science, 2009.



Antoine Adamantidis, DeLecea lab

“Neural substrates of awakening probed with optogenetic control of hypocretin neurons”, Nature, 2007.

Graduate student

Alex Katsov, Clandinin lab

“Motion processing streams in Drosophila are behaviorally specialized”, Neuron, 2008.

Get in touch

For questions about donations to the Sammy Kuo Memorial Fund, please contact