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Johns Hopkins Medicine
Media Relations and Public Affairs
Media Contact: Audrey Huang
June 8, 2006

-- Other Hopkins Neuroscientists Receiving Prizes This Spring

Hongjun Song, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Cell SongEngineering and its Program for Neuroregeneration and Repair - known as NeuroICE - has been awarded the McKnight Scholar Award by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience. Several other members of ICE also have received honors this year. Song will receive $75,000 in research funding each year for the next three years.

Song studies the ways and means used by stem cells to self-renew. In particular, Song and his colleagues study how adult nerve stem cells become nerves.

The McKnight awards go to young scientists in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories who have demonstrated a career commitment to neuroscience. The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience supports innovative research for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases of the brain.

Three members of NeuroICE have received awards from the American Heart Association:

Zhikai Chi, an M.D./ Ph.D. candidate working in the laboratory of Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., and Valina Dawson, Ph.D.,  received a predoctoral award for his work studying a new gene that may protect neurons from dying when the brain loses blood supply after injuries such as stroke.

Shaoyo Ge, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Song laboratory, received a postdoctoral award.

Shaida Andrabi, M.Sc., Ph.D., a research fellow in the Dawson laboratory, also received a postdoctoral award for work studying the molecular underpinnings of how brain cells die following injury such as stroke. Andrabi further won the the “Best Oral Presentation Award by a Student or Postdoctoral Fellow” for a presentation titled “The role of poly-(ADP-ribose) polymer in neuronal cell death” at the 2006 East Coast PARP conference held May 18-20 in Quebec City, Canada.

Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., and Valina Dawson, Ph.D., both were nominated to the Faculty of 1000 Biology in the section of neurobiology of disease and regeneration. Faculty of 1000 Biology is an online literature service that evaluates and highlights the most noteworthy research papers, based on reviews by a select faculty of over 1,600 of the world’s leading scientists, published in the biological sciences. Faculty members selected to take part in this voluntary program are well respected by their peers and perceived as being fair-minded and experts in their respective research fields.

Ted Dawson also was named chairman of the scientific advisory board of the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson Foundation. The foundation was established in 1995 to find better treatments and cures for the movement disorders dystonia and Parkinson's disease and to provide medical and patient information. Dystonia is a neurological disorder that affects 500,000 Americans and causes uncontrollable muscle spasms in the body. Parkinson disease also is a neurological disorder that causes problems with movement, balance and muscle control. As chair of the SAB, Dawson will be responsible for directing the research program and funding of the Foundation.

NeuroICE is one of four basic science programs in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Institute for Cell Engineering (ICE). The program was established in 2002, with Ted Dawson and Valina Dawson as its founding directors. NeuroICE focuses on neuroregeneration and repair research and training. The areas of emphasis include neuroregeneration, neuronal cell death and survival, apoptosis, cell fate specification, embryonic and adult stem cells, synapse formation, axonal and dendritic targeting, neuronal development, gene expression and the molecular biology of Parkinson’s disease, stroke and vision.

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