Washington Family Scholars Program

Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program in Neuroscience

The Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery is committed to providing advanced, comprehensive, technologically sophisticated and clinically-effective diagnosis for the treatment of adult and pediatric neurological disorders. Along with our strong commitment to providing educational programs for students, healthcare providers, patients and the community, the Department is especially delighted to offer the availability of the Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program in Neuroscience.

The Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program is a research opportunity supported by the Department of Neurosurgery and is available to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students with an interest in science. Awardees will be matched with a principal investigator to work on a research project in a laboratory under the direction of Dr. Keith L. Black in one of the following areas: Blood-brain barrier and drug delivery into the CNS, immunology and cancer vaccine, gene therapy, gene discovery or advanced surgical technology.

Awardees are expected to submit an abstract or scientific paper on their research to a national neuroscience, cancer or neurosurgery meeting at the end of their fellowship with the Department. If their abstract or paper is accepted for presentation, the Department will sponsor the awardees to attend the meeting in which his/her paper was accepted. Each award winner will receive special commendation from a representative of the Pauletta and Denzel Washington family.  

The 2011 Washington Family Gifted Scholars
(L-R: Dr. Keith Black, Pauletta Washington, Robert Reed, Breanna Perlmutter, Tiffany Hood, and Malcolm Washington)


Financial Support

The selected awardee will be hired in a paid position for ONE (1) year to conduct research in a Department of Neurosurgery laboratory. The amount of the salary is dependent on the student’s level of education, skills, and research experience and may range between $30K to $34K a year with no benefits. Each awardee will also receive further financial support to present their work at a national neuroscience, cancer or neurosurgery meeting. Awardee must be able to travel to Los Angeles, California to complete their research project.   According to IRS regulations, this award is subject to all applicable income tax.


  • Applicants must be an undergraduate, graduate or medical student.
  • Applicants must be able to commit to one year to the program
  • Applicants with an interest in neuroscience are eligible for this award. However, applicants that have not yet committed to a major in science are welcome.
  • Applicants must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Applicants must be 18 by the start of the fellowship

Selection Committee

The Selection Committee consists of the following members:

Keith L. Black, MD
Professor and Chairman, Neurosurgery
Director, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute
Director, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center
Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neurosciences
Department of Neurosurgery
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Benjamin Carson, MD
Director, Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery
Professor of Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery, Oncology and Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins Medical Center
Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center

Maria Castro, PhD
Professor, Department of Neurosurgery
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
University of Michigan Medical School 

Allen Counter, MD
Director, Harvard Foundation
Harvard University

Julia Ljubimova, MD, PhD
Director, Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine
Department of Neurosurgery
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Audrey S. Penn, MD
Deputy Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health

Previous Selection Committee Member: Nelson M. Oyesiku, MD, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine.

Application and Deadline

Click here for the 2015 Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program in Neuroscience application. You may also contact us for an application my mail.

The deadline for receipt of applications is March 15, 2015.

For More Information

For more information or to receive an application package, please contact:

Samantha Phu, Dept. Academic Program Coordinator
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
127 S. San Vicente Boulevard, AHSP A6600
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: 310-423-9522
Fax: 310-967-8591
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