Dr. Beverly Davidson, professor of internal medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics, and neurology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, has received the 2009 Mathilde Solowey Lecture Award in the Neurosciences for her research on developing brain-targeted therapies for inherited neurological diseases. She will present the lecture on Thursday, May 14 at noon in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10.
The annual award, administered by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, honors rising neuroscientists for innovative research with significant translational potential.
Davidson has pioneered the development and application of brain-targeted gene-silencing technologies to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Gene silencing harnesses a powerful natural process called RNA interference to turn off production of toxic proteins. Davidson’s group has developed reagents for expressing inhibitory RNA in vivo. This approach improved disease phenotypes in relevant models of dominantly inherited human neurodegenerative diseases. Davidson’s work may help lead to therapies for conditions such as Huntington’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease. For recessive diseases, strategies to supplement the missing protein must be developed. Novel approaches for tackling the CNS manifestations of these different forms of inherited diseases will be presented, including methods to achieve gene replacement in the brain following peripheral delivery of recombinant vectors or methods to inhibit gene expression using inhibitory RNAs.
Davidson is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and serves on the board of directors for the American Society for Gene Therapy.