Graduate student Ori Lieberman read his email in disbelief on July 13.
After a prestigious nationwide competition, the 26-year-old discovered that he was a recipient of the Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation. Lieberman was one of two early-career biomedical scientists to receive the award, which also came with a $50,000 cash prize.
“I was shocked,” he said. “It was just beyond comprehension.”
The doctoral candidate was recognized for his work in the Sulzer laboratory at Columbia University Medical Center, where he researches brain development in regard to psychiatric issues. Lieberman’s studies focus on the neurotransmitter dopamine and its role in disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Before completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, the Baltimore native attended Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School. Lieberman said Laura Frank, who teaches history at the high school, taught him how to use primary sources and ultimately influenced his scientific approach.
“I learned how to use a historical document as a piece of evidence and interpret it in a certain way to prove a point,” he said. “These are principles I took with me, and now I use them when I do my experiments.”
The fifth annual award was presented by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a fast-growing biotechnology company that develops new medicines to fight serious diseases.