|NINDS Javits Award Goes to Six Inventive Neuroscientists
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS),
a part of the National Institutes of Health, has named six scientists
to receive its prestigious Senator Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences.
The award is given to individual investigators who have demonstrated
exceptional scientific excellence and productivity in research
supported by the NINDS and who are expected to conduct innovative
research over the next 7 years.
Authorized by the Congress in 1983, the award honors the late
U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits (R-NY), who was a strong advocate
for research on a variety of neurological disorders. Senator Javits
suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disabling neurodegenerative
disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“The Javits award gives highly productive scientists, whose work
is on the cutting edge in their field, an even greater opportunity
to understand the interplay involved in the cause and, hopefully,
treatment or even prevention of neurological diseases,” said Story
Landis, Ph.D., NINDS Director.
The Award guarantees funding for 4 years, after which 3 additional
years may be awarded pending receipt and approval of additional
information. Investigators are nominated by either NINDS staff
or members of the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and
Stroke Council, from a pool of competing applicants during a grants
cycle. The Council must approve each recommendation, with final
selection being made by the NINDS Director.
Recipients of the Senator Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences
Paul Brehm, Ph.D., Leading Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior,
State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Dr. Brehm examines how proteins on a cell’s surface, that serve
as a gate, can be opened to trigger electrical activity involved
in nerve cell firing and intracellular signaling. His Javits award
will allow him to study how motor neurons regulate electrical coupling
among muscle fibers and how muscles, in turn, regulate neurotransmitter
release from motor neuron terminals. Findings from this study may
have significance for disorders such as myasthenia and slow channel
Michael D. Cahalan, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology and Biophysics,
University of California at Irvine.
An immunologist, Dr. Cahalan is deeply interested in how T lymphocytes
(white blood cells that help the body fight off infection) function
at the molecular and cellular levels. He is also interested in
diseases such as multiple sclerosis, which are thought to have
an immune component. T lymphocytes possess numerous ion channels,
which are intimately involved in the immune response and offer
promising targets for development of immune system therapeutic
agents. His Javits award will allow him to study the role calcium
release-activated calcium channels play in T cell responses, as
well as to identify the molecular basis for channel gating and
the corresponding cellular response in immune system activity.
Liqun Luo, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biological
Sciences, Stanford University.
Dr. Luo has made fundamental contributions to the field of developmental
neuroscience and is a pioneer in the study of developmental “axon
pruning" — a naturally occurring process for establishing
and maintaining functional neural circuits. He found the genetic
mechanism behind developmental axon pruning in a fly model and
noted striking similarities between this type of pruning and degeneration
of mammalian axons following injury. His Javits award will allow
him to search for more pruning factors and identify molecular targets
of these factors, which may add to our understanding of human neurodegenerative
Joshua R. Sanes, Ph.D., Professor of Molecular and Cellular
Biology, Harvard University.
Dr. Sanes is a leader in the study of synapses — the basic
information-processing units that underlie all neural function — and
a major innovator in molecular and genetic approaches to the analysis
of the nervous system. This Javits award will allow him to document
the dynamic cellular and molecular processes involved in the construction
of synapses and in muscle to motor nerve terminal signaling. Results
may provide insight into diseases of the motor nerve terminal as
well as other neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Ronald L. Schnaar, Ph.D., Professor, The Department of Pharmacology
and Department of Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine.
Dr. Schnaar has guided the field of glycobiology (the study of
sugars in living systems) and is a leader in the emerging area
of neuro-glycobiology (the study of the role of protein-carbohydrate
interactions in nervous system functions). His recent studies show
that disrupting the sugars in the regeneration-inhibiting molecule
myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG) enhances regeneration in animal
models of central nervous system injury. This Javits award will
allow him to further study MAG, identify genes involved in its
biosynthesis, and determine how it affects different types of neurons.
Steven M. Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurology
and Neurobiology, Yale Medical School.
Dr. Strittmatter is an internationally recognized leader in developmental
biology, with particular expertise in axonal guidance and signal
transduction. His Javits award will allow him to further study
signaling pathways and loss of function studies in animal models
of disease. Findings may provide novel insight into how nervous
system connectivity is assembled or misassembled during development
and will aid in the design of therapies based on axonal growth
This release will be posted on EurekAlert! at http://www.eurekalert.org
and on the NINDS website at http://www.ninds.nih.gov/news_and_events/press_releases/index.htm.
The NINDS, a component of the National Institutes of Health in
Bethesda, MD, is the nation’s leading funder of research on the
brain and nervous system. More information about the NINDS is available
at its website, www.ninds.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health
and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research,
and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs,