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Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience

Diane M. (Casey) Riccio and Dan RiccioIn October 2017, Diane M. (Casey) Riccio and her husband Dan very generously donated $2 million to support neuroscience research at UMass Medical School, with $1 million to establish the Riccio Fund for Neuroscience, and an additional $1 million to support the UMass ALS Cellucci fund.  These generous donations are in addition to $1 million given in 2013 to support ALS research at UMass Medical School and ongoing support for graduate student travel fellowships administered through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience is intended to catalyze interdisciplinary collaborations, leading to innovative discoveries that deepen our understanding of brain function and the processes that go awry in neurological diseases. UMMS News article. In recognition of their commitment to supporting research and training at the medical school, Dan and Diane Riccio will receive honorary degrees at the 48th UMMS Commencement on June 6, 2021.

Funded Applications


The Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience announced the four $50,000 seed grants awarded to teams of UMass Medical School researchers in June, 2021. Two of the projects funded in 2021 were new, while two others were renewal applications initially funded in 2020. The recipients and their projects are:

  • Mark J. Alkema, PhD, professor of Neurobiology, Alexandra B. Byrne, PhD, assistant professor of Neurobiology, Doyle V. Ward, PhD, associate professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, and Beth A. McCormick, PhD, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair II, professor and vice-chair of Microbiology and Physiological Systems and Director of the Program in Microbiome Dynamics.
    “How do human microbiota determine neuronal health?” (New)
  • Alexandra B. Byrne, PhD, assistant professor of Neurobiology, Read Pukkila-Worley, MD associate professor of Medicine, and Paul R. Thompson, PhD professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology.
    “Inhibiting SARM1-mediated neuronal degeneration.” (New)
  • Katherine A. Fitzgerald, PhD, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair III, professor of Medicine, vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine and director of the Program in Innate Immunity, and Carolina Ionete, MD, PhD, professor of Neurology
    “Gasdermins as biomarkers and therapeutic targets for Multiple Sclerosis.” (Renewal)
  • Paul L. Greer, PhD, assistant professor of Molecular Medicine and Robert H. Brown, Jr., DPhil, MD the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and professor and vice-chair of Neurology
    "Characterizing CNS Myeloid Cells in ALS Pathogenesis." (Renewal).


Four $50,000 seed grants will be supported from the Fund in 2020. Three of the funded projects are new this year, while one is a renewal of an applications initially funded in 2019. UMMS News article about the 2020 Awards. The recipients and their projects are:


The Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience will support four $50,000 seed grants in 2019.  Two of the funded applications were renewals of applications initially funded in the first year of Riccio Awards, while two of the projects are new this year. The recipients and their projects are:


Following a call for applications in January 2018, five applications were funded.  The Riccio Fund provided funding for four awards of $50,000 each, while the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS), partnered with this initiative and provided funding for one award. Learn more. The recipients and their projects are:

  • Kensuke Futai, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, and Douglas T. Golenbock, MD, the Pillar Chair in Biomedical Research and professor of medicine: “Roles of inflammasome-dependent cytokines in Alzheimer's disease and seizures.”
  • Nils Henninger, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology; Samer Jaber, DVM, DACLAM, assistant professor of pathology; and Mariana Pereira, PhD, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences, UMass Amherst: “Determining mechanistic links between traumatic brain injury and frontotemporal dementia.”
  • Mark Alkema, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology, and Marian Walhout, PhD, the Maroun Seeman Chair in Biomedical Research, professor of molecular medicine and co-director of the Program in Systems Biology: “The role of the microbiome and vitamin B12 on neural function.”
  • Daryl A. Bosco, PhD, associate professor of neurology, and Dori Schafer, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology: “Investigating microglial dysfunction induced by ALS-linked profilin-1.”
  • Alexandra Byrne, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, and Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and chair and professor of neurology: “Should I stay and should I grow? Identification and manipulation of genes that determine whether an axon regenerates or degenerates after motor neuron injury or disease.”