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U Pittsburgh and U South Florida scientists receive Sanberg Awards from ASNTR

Awards recognize excellence in neural therapy, brain repair research, and advancements in neurosurgery and cell transplantation

University of South Florida (USF Health)

Tampa, Fla. (April 29, 2013) - At the 20th Annual Conference of the American Society of Neural Therapy and Repair (ASNTR), held April 25 - 27 in Clearwater Beach, Florida, the ASNTR awarded The 2013 Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair to Michel M. Modo, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Radiology at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. The ASNTR also presented The Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award to Thomas B. Freeman, MD, professor of neurosurgery and medical director of The Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, the University of South Florida.

The 2013 Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair

The 2013 Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair award was presented to Dr. Modo in recognition of his extensive research in neurorestorative biology for patients who have suffered brain injury. Of particular focus for him are cerebral ischemia, diseases of neurodegeneration, and exploring the consequences of brain damage. His most recent research efforts are aimed at using non-invasive neuroimaging methods - such as MRI and PET scan - to both image brain damage and to help develop restorative strategies, such as stem cell transplantation, migration and integration for brain repair. The goal of his approach is to stimulate and/or supplement natural brain repair mechanisms.

For Dr. Modo, the imaging methods provide a window into the anatomical, metabolic, immunological and functional changes in damaged brains.

"This is a well-deserved recognition of Dr. Modo's pioneering work in the area of cell tracking and regenerative medicine," said Dr. Jeff Bulte, director of the cellular imaging section, Institute for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. "His contributions to the field have emphasized the need for non-invasive imaging techniques that are clinically translatable in order to ensure the efficacy and safety of stem cell-based therapies. Once more, the progress he has made over the last decade is enormous, in particular with his ability to combine multiple imaging modalities, such as proton MRI, fluorine MRI, and PET, to provide different angles in viewing live cells moving throughout the body."

The award Dr. Modo received is named for Bernard Sanberg, father of Dr. Paul Sanberg (University of South Florida), a co-founder of the ASNTR. 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. The award, first presented in 2000, is presented every year at ASNTR's Annual Meeting.

Recent past winners of the award include Timothy J. Collier Michigan State University (2012), Roy A.E. Bakay, MD, Rush University (2011), D. Eugene Redmond, MD, PhD Yale University (2010) Shinn-Zong Linn, MD, PhD China Medical University (2009); Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD, Georgetown University Medical Center (2008); Paul Carvey, PhD Rush University Medical Center (2007); and John Sladek, PhD, University of Colorado (2006).

The Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award

The Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award, presented periodically by the ASNTR to an outstanding scientist who has made a significant contribution to the field of brain repair, was this year presented to Dr. Freeman in recognition of his significant contributions to neurosurgery, neuroscience, surgical clinical trials, cell transplantation, and Parkinson's disease research. A neurosurgeon and researcher, Dr. Freeman pioneered the creation of an anatomical "map" of the developmental human dopaminergic system and his advancement of the use of solid dopamine tissue grafts for Parkinson's disease. Additionally, Dr. Freeman is recognized for developing the modern justification for using placebo controls in surgical clinical trials. He also extended his clinical protocol of cell transplantation for Parkinson's disease to Huntington's disease and characterized the 'optimal donor age for cell grafts' for Huntington's disease.

"Tom Freeman's unwavering pursuit of a safe and effective treatment for Parkinson's disease and relevant neurodegenerative disorders has covered two decades," said Cesar Borlongan, PhD, professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida. "His unparalleled clinical and scientific achievements have received national and international recognition. He is ranked by U.S. News and World Reports in the top one percent of neurosurgeons in the U.S."


ASNTR's 21st Annual Conference will be held April 24-26, 2014 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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