2023 MSC Emerging Science Contest for Early-Career Investigators

The contest took place on Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

Congratulations to the 2023 Winners!

Trigeminal Pain and Headache. First place winner: Elizaveta Mangutov, PhD candidate, Washington University in St. Louis, US. Runners-up: Hao-Ruei Mei, PhD candidate, UT Dallas, US; Patcharaporn Srisaikaew, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, Krembil Brain Institute, Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network, Canada.

Pain. First place winner: Rasheen Powell, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, Boston Children's Hospital, US. Runners-up: Ezekiel Willerson, PhD student, Queens College, CUNY, US; Nivedita Sarveswaran, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, Yale University School of Medicine & VA-CT, US.

Special Sensory Systems and Comorbidities. First place winner: Ya-Yu Hu, PhD student, UT Dallas, US. Runners-up: Gurueswar Nagarajan, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, US; Rebecca Lorsung, MD/PhD student, University of Maryland Medical Scientist Training Program, US.

Physiology/Diagnosis/Therapeutics. First place winner: Chloe Cheung, PhD student, University of Western Ontario, Canada. Runners-up: Floor van Welie, master's student, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands; Mary Kovoor, PhD candidate, New York Medical College, US.

The Event

Join us for a friendly competition among select Neuroscience 2023 poster presenters from within and beyond the migraine community whose research has some bearing on either the pathophysiology, diagnosis or treatment of migraine disease.

In addition to the abstracts presented on the topic of migraine and headache, many other research labs are making discoveries that may have more of a connection to the complex disease of migraine than they are aware of, including the following areas of interest:

  • trigeminal system
  • special sensory systems (ocular, auditory, vestibular and others)
  • autonomic system
  • chronic pain
  • neural excitability, synapses, ion channelopathies, mitochondrial function
  • glial cells and other neuroimmunology
  • neuroinflammation and central sensitization
  • genetics
  • hormones
  • mood disorders
  • Circadian rhythm and sleep
  • microbiome and brain-gut connections
  • cardiovascular and stroke
  • epilepsy
  • autoimmune disorders

During the event 12 finalists (3 each from 4 categories) will be given a maximum of 5 minutes to answer the following questions:

  1. Explain the methodology, findings, and conclusions of your research project in language that a clinician without preclinical research training would understand.
  2. Can you explain what implications your research might have for understanding migraine disease and/or any of its comorbidities, or how your research holds promise as a new avenue of future migraine study?

Based on a combination of research content, clarity of explanation, relevance to migraine and presentation, a first-place winner in each category will be announced at the end of the program.

First place - $500
2 runner-up competitors - $200 each

At the conclusion of the presentations, there will be an open discussion period.  Lab directors are encouraged to share their thoughts about this competition and the intersection of their lab’s research and migraine.

Contest Rules

Members of the Association of Migraine Disorders’ Research Advisory Committee will review all submissions and select 12 finalists to present at the event. Notification will be sent on December 6, 2023.

Powerpoint slides for finalists are due December 11, 2023.

All finalists will be acknowledged on the MSC website.

  1. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoc researchers.
  2. Applicants must have received acceptance of their poster abstracts at the SfN Neuroscience 2023 event.
  3. The presenters must agree to be recorded during this event.


  1. Trigeminal Pain and Headache
  2. Pain and Epilepsy
  3. Special Sensory Systems and Comorbidities: Auditory, vestibular, vision, olfaction/smell/taste, pharyngeal/cough, itch. Comorbidities: sleep, gastrointestinal/microbiome, mood disorders, brain injury
  4. Physiology/Diagnosis/Therapeutics: Neurotransmitters, Receptors, Neuroinflammation (astrocytes, microglia), Ion Channels, Mitochondria, Neuroplasticity, Gender, Sex and Hormones, Diagnostics: fMRI, EEG, biomarkers, Therapeutics: psychedelics

This event is not sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 event!

Category 1 (Migraine). First place winner: Micah Johnson, University of Iowa. Runners-up: Lauriane Delay, INSERM; Victor Chua, University of Utah; Rebecca Hornung, Texas A&M University

Category 2: (Pain and Epilepsy). First place winner: Giuseppe Cataldo, City University of New York. Runners-up: Ludovica Brusaferri, MGH/Harvard; Evana Xiao, Trent University

Category 3: (Special Sensory Systems and Comorbidities). First place winner: Shafaqat Rahman, University of Rochester. Runners-up: Hannah Martin, University of Chicago; Assan Mary Cedras, University of Montreal

Category 4 (Physiology/Diagnosis/Therapeutics). First place winner: Seifaldin Selim Aldalil, Sewanee: The University of the South; Runners-up: Juliet Mwirigi, UT Dallas; Ariege Bizanti, University of Central Florida