Monell Center Neuroscientist Receives Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Collaborative Pairs Project Award

For Immediate Release
Contact: Karen Kreeger,

PHILADELPHIA (February 21, 2024) — Kevin Bolding, PhD, Assistant Member at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and his colleague, Professor Olivier Pertz, PhD, from the Institute of Cell Biology/University of Bern, today received a Collaborative Pairs Pilot Project Award from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Kevin Bolding, PhD

“I am honored and grateful to receive this Chan Zuckerberg Initiative award, which brings together scientists from broad research areas who are motivated by collaboration and open science to investigate new areas in brain science and neurodegenerative disease,” said Bolding. “My Pilot Project partner and I are eager to get started and share what we find with the world.”

Memories provide meaning in our inner lives and critically inform decision-making. Aging and neurodegenerative disease disrupt memory with devastating consequences. A major overarching goal in neuroscience is to understand the mechanisms of memory, to identify therapeutic targets, and preserve memory abilities. While some new memories are preserved for decades, others slip from our mind in seconds. What neurobiological factors determine memory persistence?

“Our interdisciplinary collaboration blends systems neuroscience with contemporary cell biology to observe neural activity and biochemical signaling at the single-cell level in a behaving mouse’s brain and determine how these processes determine memory persistence,” said Bolding.

The overall goal of the team is to discover fundamental rules and mechanisms that govern information storage, namely how memories are made and stored. The teams will be looking for and measuring changes in neural circuitry that correspond to memory formation.

To do this, the team will use fluorescent molecular markers to follow the ERK signaling pathway during memory consolidation, when temporary, transient memories are transformed into a more stable, long-lasting form. This process will be integrated with calcium imaging of populations of neurons in the hippocampus at the single-cell level in live mice to determine how neural activity controls ERK signaling to describe how memories are laid down for the long term.

Bolding received his PhD in Neural and Behavioral Science at SUNY Downstate. He was also a Postdoctoral Fellow in neurobiology at Duke University and a Research Scientist in the Department of Biology, Boston University before moving to the Monell Center. He is also funded by a Stephen I. Katz Early Stage Investigator Project grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for 2024-2028.

The Collaborative Pair Project funds investigators and their teams to explore innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to address critical challenges in the fields of neurodegenerative disease and fundamental neuroscience. Awards are $200,000 in total costs per collaborating pair for a period of 18 months, after which successful projects will be eligible to apply for an additional four-year acceleration grant that builds on pilot phase studies.


The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1968, Monell‘s mission is to improve health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding of taste, smell, and related senses, where our discoveries lead to improving nutritional health, diagnosing and treating disease, addressing smell and taste loss, and digitizing chemosensory data.