Harvard scientist wins Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has named Michael E. Greenberg, Ph.D. as the recipient of the 9th annual Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize.

Harvard scientist wins Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize click to enlarge Michael E. Greenberg, Ph.D.

Greenberg is the Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology and chair of the department of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Perl prize carries a $10,000 award and is given to recognize a seminal achievement in neuroscience. Past recipients have included four subsequent winners of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. Dr. Edward R. Perl is Sarah Graham Kenan professor of cell and molecular physiology at UNC School of Medicine. Perl’s work in pain mechanisms has been highly influential. Thirty years ago, he was the first to prove that a particular class of nerve cells (now called nociceptors) responds exclusively to stimuli that are perceived as painful. These cells now are targets of intensive efforts to find drugs that block their function.

This year’s Perl Prize is being awarded to Greenberg for his discovery of signaling pathways underlying activity-regulated gene transcription in neurons. Changes in patterns of electrical activity in neurons have long been thought to underlie cognitive functions like learning and memory. Greenberg’s discoveries have defined the mechanism by which neural activity regulates neuronal gene expression. Recently several activity-regulated genes have been implicated in rare familial cases of autism.

“Dr. Greenberg’s discoveries have profound implications for how we learn and for how learning is disrupted in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism” said Dr. William D. Snider, director of the UNC Neuroscience Research Center and head of the selection committee for the prize.

School of Medicine Dean William L. Roper will present the award May 6th on the UNC campus at 1PM in G202 MBRB.

Dr. Greenberg will deliver the Perl Prize lecture immediately following the ceremony.

Note: Contact W. Snider at (919) 843-8623 or william_snider@med.unc.edu.

School of Medicine contact: Les Lang, (919) 966-9366 or llang@med.unc.edu


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