News Release

Duke University professor receives 2019 Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award from ASNTR

Duke University professor receives award at 2019 ASNTR

Grant and Award Announcement

University of South Florida

Tampa, Fla. (April 16, 2019) - In advance of its 2019 annual meeting, the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair (ASNTR) has presented The 2019 Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award to Joanne Kurtzberg, MD, Jerome Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center and Director of the of the Marcus Center for Cellular Cures at the Duke University School of Medicine. The award, presented annually at the ASNTR meeting, recognizes Dr. Kurtzberg's distinguished career in pediatrics and regenerative medicine.

Dr. Kurtzberg is internationally renowned in pediatric hematology and oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, umbilical cord blood banking and transplantation as well as cellular therapies and regenerative medicine. Dr. Kurtzberg will also be an invited guest speaker at ASNTR's 26th Annual Conference to be held April 25-28, 2019 in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

"Dr. Kurtzberg is a true pioneer in the field and continues to be at the forefront of cord blood stem cell research, positively impacting the lives of so many," said Dr. Paul Sanberg, Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation & Knowledge Enterprise University of South Florida. "Her recently completed clinical trial, determining the safety of cord blood therapy in adult ischemic stroke patients, had very positive results opening doors to the potential treatment of other neurological diseases and disorders. It is wonderful to see the progress that has been made since losing my father Bernard to stroke 20 years ago."

Dr. Kurtzberg, who conducts both clinical and laboratory-based translational research, is co-director of the Stem cell Transplant Laboratory at Duke University and has most recently initiated an autologous (self-donated) umbilical cord blood program at Duke University where she treats children with cancer, blood disorders, immune deficiencies and inherited metabolic diseases. This program follows her two-decade pioneering investigations pertaining umbilical cord blood cell transplantation as an alternative to transplanting stem cells. Dr. Kurtzberg's colleagues laud not only her important work, but also point to her dedication to patients.

"Dr. Kurtzberg's unwavering dedication to developing life-changing treatments is surpassed only by the compassionate care that she provides to each of her patients," said Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University and director of Duke's Center for Autism and Brain Development. "She is a tireless advocate for new treatments that will improve the lives of patients worldwide and an inspiring role model for her colleagues and students."

Dr. Evan Snyder, founding director of the Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and professor at the University of California San Diego, agrees.

"Dr. Kurtzberg is one of the most dedicated and selfless physicians I have ever known," said Dr. Snyder. "She is constantly thinking of her patients' welfare, a focus I believe motivated her to be so creative with her clinical tools, such as bone marrow transplantation using umbilical cord blood against the toughest of diseases, including neurologic diseases. It is in large part because of her work that umbilical cord blood has become the mainstay in bone marrow transplantation. Her work is a "gift" to pediatrics and translational neuroscience. I feel honored and blessed to call her a collaborator and friend. She is generous, giving, considerate, and most deserving of this award."


The Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair is named for Bernard Sanberg, father of ASNTR co-founder Dr. Paul Sanberg. After Bernard Sanberg died of a stroke in 1999, the award bearing his name was established and is presented by the ASNTR annually to an individual who has made outstanding research contributions in the field of neural therapy and repair. First presented in 2000, the award is presented every year at ASNTR's Annual Meeting.

Recent past winners of the Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair include: S. Thomas Carmichael, MD., PhD, University of California, Los Angeles; Li-Ru Zhao, MD, PhD, State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University; Marina E. Emborg, MD, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; John D. Elsworth, PhD, Yale School of Medicine, Douglas Kondziolka, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center.

ASNTR's 27th Annual Conference will be held April 23-25, 2020 in Clearwater Beach, Florida. For more information, email Donna Morrison or visit the ASNTR website

ASNTR is a society for basic and clinical neuroscientists using a variety of technologies to better understand how the nervous system functions and establish new procedures for its repair in response to trauma or neurodegenerative disease. Member scientists employ stem/neural cell transplantation, gene therapy, trophic factor and neuroprotective compound administration and other approaches.

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