Six NIMH Scientists Honored for Brain Research
|Dr. Leslie Ungerleider (top) and Dr. Mortimer Mishkin are winners of the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology from the University of Louisville.
Six National Institute of Mental Health intramural researchers were recently honored for their research on the brain and mental illness.
Dr. Leslie Ungerleider and Dr. Mortimer Mishkin each received the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology from the University of Louisville. Ungerleider, chief of the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, and Mishkin, acting chief of the Laboratory of Neuropsychology, were cited for discovering that what is seen by the eye is routed via a different brain pathway than the one that processes where an object is located. This insight into the organization of the brain’s cortex has opened the way to important advances in neuroscience.
Four NIMH intramural researchers also were among Outstanding Research Achievement Prize honorees from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
Dr. Joel Kleinman, deputy chief of the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, was among two recipients of the Leiber Prize for Schizophrenia Research. Over more than 3 decades, he has built a unique collection of post-mortem human brains that have enabled pioneering studies into the molecular roots of schizophrenia—and recently a landmark database that holds secrets to how genetic variation affects brain structure and function.
The Ruane Prize for Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research went to Dr. Daniel Pine, chief of the Emotion and Development Branch. Using brain imaging, genetics and other cutting-edge approaches, he is tracing the circuitry of childhood mood and anxiety disorders to their roots in the key brain centers for emotion and thinking. His research team is also developing new treatments, both pharmacological and behavioral, for children affected by these disorders.
Dr. Carlos Zarate, chief of the Experimental Therapeutics Branch, shared, with another researcher, the Bipolar Mood Disorder Prize. Zarate and colleagues are developing an experimental fast-acting antidepressant treatment strategy that lifts depression symptoms within an hour in bipolar patients. The new treatment is based on the mechanism-of-action of ketamine, a drug that works through the brain’s glutamate chemical messenger system, which is thought to act closer to the seat of the problem in the brain than existing serotonin-based antidepressants.
Dr. Amanda Law of the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch was one of two recipients of the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Prize for Schizophrenia Research. Her studies into molecular and cellular mechanisms of genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia are uncovering how variation in suspect genes leads to protein abnormalities in a pathway critical for proper brain development. The research, in adult and fetal human post-mortem brains, human and rodent cell systems and genetically engineered mice, holds promise for development of new strategies for treating developmental brain disorders.
|At left, Dr. Joel Kleinman (l), Daniel Pine (c) and Dr. Carlos Zarate are winners of the Leiber Prize for Schizophrenia Research, Ruane Prize for Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research and Bipolar Mood Disorder Prize, respectively. At right, Dr. Amanda Law receives the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Prize for Schizophrenia Research from Columbia University’s Dr. Herbert Pardes, a former NIMH director.
Reddy Joins NIGMS
Dr. Michael “Mike” Reddy recently joined NIGMS as program director in its Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology. He will administer research grants on DNA replication and postdoctoral fellowship grants in the areas of genetics and developmental biology. Before coming to NIGMS, Reddy was a scientist in the planetary sciences division at NASA headquarters. Prior to that, he did a 2-year rotation as a program director in the National Science Foundation’s division of molecular and cellular biosciences. Earlier, he was a faculty member for 15 years in the chemistry and biochemistry department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Reddy earned a B.A. and M.A. in biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Ph.D. in molecular microbiology from SUNY-Stony Brook. His postdoctoral research was in the laboratory of Peter von Hippel at the University of Oregon.
NCATS Scientist Named NIH Federal Engineer of the Year
The word “engineer” comes from the Latin words ingeniare, meaning “to design or devise,” and the word ingenium, which translates to “clever invention.”
The meanings aptly describe Sam Michael of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, who recently was named NIH’s Federal Engineer of the Year.
Michael received the honor at the Feb. 23 Federal Engineer of the Year awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The award, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers, was in recognition of his leadership of the establishment of a world-class chemical compound screening facility at NIH.
|Sam Michael of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences was named NIH’s Federal Engineer of the Year.
Michael is director of automation and compound management in the Division of Pre-clinical Innovation at NCATS. He and his team create, operate, maintain and develop improvements to a suite of automated high-throughput robotic screening systems. These systems operate on a scale equal to or greater than those at the largest pharmaceutical companies. In addition, they have made possible the development of hundreds of chemical probes that investigators worldwide use to validate new drug targets and chemical leads for development of new drugs for dozens of currently untreatable diseases.
“Hundreds of visitors have come to see and learn from our operations, and I always tell them that Sam and his team are the reason our screening technologies are world-leading,” said Dr. Christopher Austin, director of the Division of Pre-clinical Innovation and Michael’s award nominator. “It is enormously gratifying that Sam has been recognized with this honor by his engineering peers in the federal government.”
As the son of a civil and petroleum engineer growing up in Silver Spring, a young Michael started his engineering career building with Legos and making them move. Ultimately, it was this interest in making things that work that led him to a career in engineering.
“I’m excited and I appreciate being recognized for this honor. But it’s really a reflection of the incredible work of my team and the biologists, chemists and informatics scientists we work with here and the remarkable environment of this center,” said Michael.—Geoff Spencer