Student becomes Medical School’s first to win Lindsley Prize

Portrait of Brian Sweis, Ph.D.

Brian Sweis, Ph.D.

M.D./Ph.D. student Brian Sweis was awarded the Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience by the Society for Neuroscience, becoming the Medical School’s first student ever to receive the prestigious honor. 

The prize, which is typically awarded to one individual worldwide each year, recognizes Sweis as having an outstanding thesis in behavioral neuroscience.

“It is extremely exciting and humbling to see my Ph.D. thesis recognized on a global level like this,” says Sweis, who completed his Ph.D. in the U’s renowned Graduate Program in Neuroscience.  

His thesis applied the emerging field of neuroeconomics to psychiatric disorders, including addiction. Combining findings from the laboratories of his coadvisers — David Redish, Ph.D., and Mark Thomas, Ph.D., professors in the Department of Neuroscience —  Sweis examined how memories influence the ways the brain makes decisions and how those decisions could go awry. 

Specifically, he set out to identify the neural processes that lead to decision-making vulnerabilities, which could pave the way for the development of treatments that target those specific neural mechanisms.

Sweis, who received the Bakken M.D./Ph.D. Endowed Scholarship, just finished his eighth and final year of the M.D./Ph.D. program. With support of the University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, he is applying his research to people who are struggling with addiction. In the future, Sweis plans to continue his medical training in psychiatry while conducting neuroscience research. He says his ultimate goal is to simultaneously run his own research lab, care for patients, and develop new treatments for those struggling with mental illnesses.  

Published on May 13, 2020