Jackson Laboratory Assistant Professor Gareth Howell, Ph.D., is one of two winners of the 2013 Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize from The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM).
The Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize recognizes the most significant scholarly article on glaucoma published in a peer-reviewed journal in the prior calendar year.
According to the NYAM, the selection committee of peer researchers selects one winning article, whose author receives a $50,000 prize. This year the prize goes to both Howell and Larry I. Benowitz, Ph.D., professor of surgery and ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and director of the laboratories for neuroscience research in neurosurgery at Boston Children's Hospital.
"For the first time in the history of the Rudin Glaucoma Prize, two prizes will be awarded. Each is a truly novel and transformative paper and the culmination of years of research that was done despite the universal feeling that neither could ever be accomplished," said Dr. David Abramson, chair of the Lewis Rudin prize selection committee and chief of ophthalmic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Howell's paper, "Radiation treatment inhibits monocyte entry into the optic nerve head and prevents neuronal damage in a mouse model of glaucoma," was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
"Dr. Howell's research demonstrated that low-dose radiation could prevent damage to the optic nerve by inhibiting monocyte response," Dr. Abramson said. "This opens a world of possibilities for novel treatments of optic nerve and other nerve damages in humans employing radiation-based and non-radiation-based treatments in a truly novel way."
The study was performed while Dr. Howell was a research scientist at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, working with Howard Hughes Investigator Simon John, Ph.D. Howell is now an assistant professor at the Laboratory and is using genetics and genomics approaches to understand neurodegenerative diseases including glaucoma, dementia and traumatic brain injury.
Howell received his Ph.D. from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at The Jackson Laboratory and the University of Sheffield, UK. His honors include the Glaucoma Research Foundation's Shaffer Prize for Innovative Research in 2012.
The Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize of NYAM was established in 1995 in honor of Lewis Rudin, the late New York City real estate developer and founder of the Association for a Better New York. The prize is funded by the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc., with additional support from Jack Rudin, Chairman of the Rudin Management Company.
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and the new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs more than 1,500 staff, and its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.