Dr. Eva Feldman was recently named the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology. The appointment, for five years beginning Oct. 21, 2004, was approved by the University of Michigan Regents. The professorship was established under Dr. DeJong who served as a Chair of Neurology for 27 years at University of Michigan until his retirement in 1977. Dr. DeJong was one of the leaders of American neurology and was founding editor of the journal Neurology. It is a befitting honor to Dr. Feldman for her outstanding scientific achievements, commitment to teaching, her active University clinical practice; her leadership and service to the Medical School, the University of Michigan and professional organizations and journals. The installation ceremony, which took place on March 16, 2005 in the Ford Amphitheatre at the University of Michigan Hospital, included Mr. Taubman, President Mary Sue Coleman, and the dean of Medical school, Dr. Allen Lichter.
Joseph M. Corey, MD, Ph.D., has been awarded a Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08) by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at NIH, which began 8/1/2004. His proposal, entitled “Fibrous Templates for Directed Nerve Regeneration” is co-mentored by Eva Feldman, MD, Ph.D. in Neurology and David Martin, Ph.D., in Materials Science and Engineering. In this grant, Dr. Corey will better understand how nerve cells can grow on special artificial fibers, so that patients with cut or damaged nerves and spinal cord injury may regain function.
Following the screening of 1,040 specially selected FDA approved drugs in our experimental model system, the data was shared with the Consortium of 26 laboratories nationwide. This project, sponsored by The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and the ALS Association, was a focused effort to fast-track new therapeutic strategies against ALS into the clinic. The data from all 26 research teams will be available to the public on the Internet in the form of a database containing all of the screening results. In addition, preliminary discussions of the data will be published in a letter to the journal Nature in the near future. In our own PFUND laboratory, the drug screen has produced exciting new insights into ALS disease. These leads form the basis for new research projects and grant proposals that are now underway in the lab.
Following the drug screening effort for new therapies against ALS, Andrea Vincent, Ph.D., obtained a grant from the ALS Association to study the protective drug effects. The grant is for one year and is intended to examine how inflammation influences the survival of the motor neurons affected in ALS. Dr. Vincent hopes to use this one-year period to generate new theories about how ALS progresses and develop her research program in this area.
In a new study soon to be published in the FASEB Journal, PNR&D scientist Gina Leinninger reports her newest results on neuronal survival in the face of high glucose. Ms. Leinninger, a current University of Michigan Graduate Student in the Neuroscience Program, has found that Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-I) enhances the survival of those neurons affected in diabetic neuropathy using a specific survival pathway. Cells use this pathway to increase production of a group of factors that protect the cell from glucose-induced damage and death. This increased understanding of both how glucose kills neurons and the factors needed to protect them could lead to the identification of therapeutic targets in the future.
PFUND researcher Joseph M. Corey, MD, Ph.D., has recent data suggesting that engineered synthetic materials produced in a specific pattern enhance the growth, shape, and migration of neurons and their processes. During spinal cord injury, neurons are damaged or killed. In order for a patient to regain function, the neurons must grow and connect with one another in a particular pattern. Scaffolds are used to aid in proper neuronal growth and connection. Dr. Corey’s results suggest that the material used and the patterns the materials are placed in determine how the neurons will behave. These results further our understanding of how these materials can be used to control the direction a neuron will grow or move in and the connections it will make with other neurons, which will be important for patient rehabilitation after spinal cord injury.
Dr. Adam D. Rubin has seen the destructive effects of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, both personally and professionally. So it makes sense that the 44-year-old laryngologist would blend his love of running with his desire to find a cure for this devastating disease.
That is why Dr. Rubin planned to run his first New York City Marathon on Nov. 4 to raise funds for ALS research. And while the run was canceled following Hurricane Sandy, Dr. Rubin is continuing to fundraise and will run the Anthem Richmond marathon on Nov. 10 in Virginia.
Donations will go to the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery (PNRD) at the University of Michigan Health System, a laboratory directed by Dr. Eva Feldman with which Dr. Rubin has been affiliated for years.
ALS stem cell trial is chronicled in Detroit Free Press two-part series
By Robin Erb, Free Press Medical Writer
Sometimes she glares at the painting of Jesus in her dining room.
“I just let it loose,” said Mary Kleiss at her Royal Oak home. “I look at that picture and I say, ‘You get down here and put on your boxing gloves and let’s get this over with.’ I am so damned angry.”
Her son, Regis, was diagnosed two and a half years ago with Lou Gehrig’s disease — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It is, he writes, “as if God is torturing me.”
The disease kills with stunning efficiency — deadening its victims’ peripheral nerves, withering muscles and, in a final assault, shutting down their ability to breathe. An estimated 30,000 people have it at any given time; 5,000 are diagnosed yearly. Most die within years. There is no cure.