Alexandra Nelson, M.D.,Ph.D.

Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship
Photo of Alexandra Nelson, Ph.D., 2021 NINDS Landis Awardee for Outstanding Mentorship
University of California , San Francisco, CA

Dr. Nelson exudes a joy of science and fosters this joy in her trainees while simultaneously maintaining a strong focus on scientific rigor. She makes the scientific method an intellectually stimulating focus in the lab, with almost daily discussions among all and distribution of reading material on the subject to be discussed as a group. Dr. Nelson has also designed courses focused on rigor and offers mentorship well beyond her immediate lab. In addition to her research program, clinical practice, and active mentorship and training in both realms, she hosts a journal club focused in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Several trainees commented on Dr. Nelson as an inspiration and expressed their approach to addressing difficult situations by considering “what Alexandra would do.” Dr. Nelson is a clinician-scientist who seeks to understand the cellular and circuit basis of motor control, particularly in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Dystonia, when the basal ganglia and connected structures are dysfunctional. By identifying aberrant synaptic connections or patterns of activity that contribute to disease phenotypes, the lab aims to inform treatments for these disorders.