News Release

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Four New Members Named to National Neurology Advisory Council

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has appointed four new members to its major advisory panel, the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council. The NINDS, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the nation’s primary supporter of basic, translational, and clinical research on the brain and nervous system. NINDS Director Story Landis, Ph.D., formally introduced the new members, who will serve through July 2012, at the Council’s September 18, meeting.

The National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council meets three times each year to review applications from scientists seeking financial support for biomedical research and research training on disorders of the brain and nervous system. Members also advise the Institute on research program planning and priorities. The 18-member Council is composed of physicians, scientists, and representatives of the public. The new members are:

Emery N. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of Health Sciences and Technology and a professor of computational neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the Massachusetts General Hospital Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard University. Dr. Brown is an anesthesiologist-statistician whose research focus is the development of signal processing algorithms to characterize how the patterns of electrical discharges from neurons in the brain represent information from the outside world. Since receiving the 2007 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, he has been using a systems neuroscience approach to study how anesthetic drugs act in the brain to create the state of general anesthesia. Dr. Brown has received numerous honors, published numerous scientific articles, and is an elected member of the Association of University Anesthesiologists, the Institute of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a fellow of the IEEE.

Robert M. Friedlander, M.D. is vice chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He is also an associate professor in surgery (Neurosurgery) at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and performed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (Neurosurgery). He is an associate neurosurgeon at Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is also on the consulting staff at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. His clinical specialties include aneurysms and vascular malformations, brain tumors, carotid disease, cerebrovascular disease, Chiari malformation, microvascular decompression, and radiosurgery. Dr. Friedlander’s research focuses on mechanisms of apoptosis, or programmed cell death. He and his team are investigating ways to stop or slow the progression of cell death in Huntington’s disease, ALS, and stroke. He was the first to demonstrate the functional role of apoptotic pathways in a number of neurologic diseases. He and his team have reported success with using pharmacological interventions to reduce apoptosis in mouse models of neurological disease. He is a member of numerous professional societies and is widely published in his field.

Katie Hood, M.B.A. is chief executive officer of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). MJFF is the single largest Parkinson’s disease (PD) research funder in the world second only to the U.S. government, having funded $126 million in PD research to date. Ms. Hood has played critical roles in shaping MJFF’s strategy of closing critical gaps that slow potential treatments on their path from the laboratory to Parkinson’s patients, as well as in building a team of in-house research experts needed to implement that strategy. Prior to joining MJFF in 2002, Ms. Hood was a consultant at Bain & Company. She was also an analyst in the Credit Department of Goldman, Sachs & Co., and was a program coordinator with Duke University’s Hart Leadership Program. She earned her B.A. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Parkinson’s Action Network.

Louis J. Ptácek, M.D. is the Director of the Division of Neurogenetics at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where he holds the John C. Coleman Distinguished Professorship in Neurodegenerative Diseases. He is also an investigator with Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received his M.D. from the University of Wisconsin and did his residency in neurology at the University of Utah. Dr. Ptácek's research focuses on genetic diseases of muscle, heart and brain, and hereditary variation of human sleep behavior. Dr. Ptácek pioneered the field of channelopathies by showing that disorders such as periodic paralysis and non-dystrophic myotonias are caused by genetic mutations that affect ion channel proteins in neurons. He and his collaborators continue to probe the pathophysiology of episodic neurological diseases. His group has also identified genes causing cardiac arrhythmias, epilepsy and migraine headache. More recently, he and collaborators have identified the first Mendelian human circadian rhythm variants and cloned a number of genes causing altered sleep schedules. Such studies are leading to insights about the molecular basis of these human phenotypes and to similarities and differences between human physiology and that of other organisms.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is the nation’s primary funder of research on the brain and nervous system. More information about the NINDS and its mission is available at

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