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Harris Gelbard Receives International Award for Neurovirology Research

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Harris GelbardHarris “Handy” Gelbard, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Neural Development & Disease, is slated to receive the Hilary Koprowski Prize in Neurovirology at this year’s International Symposium on Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease at Drexel University. Gelbard will be recognized for developing an unconventional drug that shows promise in treating brain disorders associated with HIV.

Gelbard’s drug, URMC-099, calms the immune system when it goes awry, as happens in HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND). In HAND, immune reactions to HIV particles in the brain damage nerve cells and cause dementia. Because patients affected by HAND also have HIV, it was imperative that URMC-099 not interfere with the antiretroviral drugs that keep HIV-positive patients alive.

DOD Grant Explores New Drugs to Thwart Impact of Trauma, Stroke, and Cardiac Arrest

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A $2.3 million Department of Defense grant will help neuroscientists develop new treatments for the emergency room and the battlefield. The research will focus on the development of new therapies that could help protect brain and other at risk organs following a trauma, heart attack, or stroke.

“While we have made significant progress in our ability to restore blood flow after stroke or cardiac arrest, the medical community does not have drugs at its disposal to prevent the secondary damage that occurs after these events,” said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study. “This grant will further our research on a promising class of drugs that possess both anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties that we believe will be suitable for use in both military and emergency conditions.”

Read More: DOD Grant Explores New Drugs to Thwart Impact of Trauma, Stroke, and Cardiac Arrest

Paciorkowski Recognized for Research in Pediatric Neurologic Disorders

Monday, August 29, 2016

alexNeurologist Alexander R. Paciorkowski, M.D.  is being honored by the American Neurological Association (ANA) for his research in developmental disorders.  The award will be presented at the ANA’s annual meeting in October 2016.

Paciorkowski ‘s research focuses on early life epilepsies and his research has shed new light on mechanisms of a severe form of seizure disorders – early myoclonic encephalopathy, Ohtahara syndrome, and infantile spasms – collectively referred to as developmental epilepsies.  Specifically, Paciorkowski has identified a mutation in a gene called salt-inducible kinase 1 (SIK1), a gene previously unidentified with the disease and one which researchers believe plays a role in a chain reaction of gene and protein interactions in neurons that contribute to seizures. 

 “Alex is a rising star in neurogenetics and child neurology who, just four years out of fellowship, has already made major contributions to our knowledge about human neurodevelopment genetics and disorders,” said Jonathon Mink, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Child Neurology and vice chair of the Department of Neurology at University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). 

Read More: Paciorkowski Recognized for Research in Pediatric Neurologic Disorders

Pathologist Raises Questions About Polymer Coatings on Vascular Medical Devices

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rupal I. Mehta, M.D., assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Center for Neural Development and Disease (CNDD), first described hydrophilic polymer embolism in 2009 and has been investigating the health complications associated with the medical device coating materials for more than eight years. Her work has helped to increase awareness among patients undergoing catheterization and minimally invasive cardiac and vascular procedures.

Polymer coating gels are applied to the surfaces of medical devices for lubrication and to improve maneuverability within blood vessels. These coated devices are used in millions of patients worldwide each year for various cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, and peripheral vascular conditions such as coronary angioplasty procedures for coronary artery disease.

Mehta’s team has shown that polymeric coating particles may flake off of devices and unexpectedly deposit in vessels throughout the body. In a recent article, Mehta reviewed the cases of 32 patients with documented complications associated with polymeric coatings and showed that associated tissue changes within the brain were diverse, including structural abnormalities of small vessels (in 63% of patients), inflammation (38%), stroke (28%) and/or aseptic meningitis (22%).

Mehta was invited to present her work on this subject at the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health special grand rounds last fall. A recent FDA public safety communication highlights the issue and cites her work. The FDA has acknowledged important gaps in current national and international device standards, Mehta said, and the agency is working with stakeholders to better characterize and evaluate coating performance to mitigate risks of these complications in patients.

The study was co-authored by Rashi Mehta, M.D., assistant professor Radiology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the New York State/United University Professions supported the study.

Read More: Pathologist Raises Questions About Polymer Coatings on Vascular Medical Devices

Nguyen Mai Wins for First Place Poster at Schwid Symposium

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Congratulations to Nguyen Mai for winning first place in the poster competition at the 11th Annual Steven R. Schwid Research Symposium under basic Research Category for her project: "Systemic immune responses and neutrophil activation in the propagation of neuroinflammation after cerebral ischemia reperfusion.”

New Award Will Advance Muscular Dystrophy Research

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dr. Thornton

University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Charles Thornton, M.D. has received a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health to further his research on muscular dystrophy. The unique award provides exceptional researchers with seven years of uninterrupted funding.

The Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award was created by the U.S. Congress in 1983 and is named in honor of former U.S. Senator Jacob Javits (NY), who was the victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disorder commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The $2.3 million grant is administered by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and is given to scientists who have demonstrated exceptional scientific excellence and productivity in their field.

Making progress on treating paralytic diseases is difficult and requires a dedicated team of clinicians and researchers, said Thornton, the Saunders Family Distinguished Professor in Neuromuscular Research. To bring a team together and keep it together over the long run, you need a stable stream of financial support. This award will help us continue our work through a very important stage when new therapies are being tested and others are on the horizon.

Read More: New Award Will Advance Muscular Dystrophy Research

Study Details Source of Mental Problems Associated with MS

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A study out today sheds new light on multiple sclerosis (MS), specifically damage in the brain caused by the disease that may explain the slow and continuous cognitive decline that many patients experience.  The findings, which appear in the Journal of Neuroscience, show that the brain’s immune system is responsible for disrupting communication between nerve cells, even in parts of the brain that are not normally considered to be primary targets of the disease.

“This study identifies for the first time a new disease mechanism in MS which causes damage to neurons independent of the loss of white matter and demyelination that is the hallmark of the disease,” said the lead author, neurologist Matthew Bellizzi, M.D., Ph.D., with the Center for Neural Development and Disease at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). “This damage represents another component of the disease and one that is not prevented by the current immunosuppressive drugs employed to treat MS.”

Read More: Study Details Source of Mental Problems Associated with MS