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Neuroscience program builds partnerships

Ken Maiese.jpg (7861 bytes) Dr. Maiese will host multidisciplinary collaborations through his new laboratory neuroscience program.


One of Wayne State University’s most promising medical researchers has just scored another noteworthy accomplishment. The Janssen Research Foundation and its parent corporation, Johnson and Johnson, recently awarded Kenneth Maiese, MD, a five-year grant to investigate and develop new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders such as stroke, cerebrovascular disease, cerebral trauma, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Maiese Laboratory Neuroscience Program is the first of its kind and represents a novel opportunity for Wayne State University researchers to maintain a close association with industry to develop therapeutic modalities for neurodegenerative disorders. "In essence, the program, which is similar to the large industrial alliances developed at Harvard University, allows us to benefit from product development knowledge of industry and in turn, it offers industry access to our academic expertise in both clinical and basic research," said Dr. Maiese.

The program is designed to provide educational training in the neurosciences for a host of individuals in various disciplines, at various stages of training, said Dr. Maiese. "Our lab will host and collaborate with students, research assistants, research associates, and internationally renowned basic research and clinical investigators," he said.

Dr. Maiese’s initial collaborations with the Janssen Research Foundation examined the neuroprotective role of the therapeutic agent lubeluzole, now under clinical investigation. They have demonstrated that lubeluzole increases neuronal survival not only at the point of decreased oxygen supply, but also when nitric oxide (NO) is generated. NO, a free radical, and its subsequent signal transduction pathways play a crucial role in the modulation of neuronal injury. Most importantly, Dr. Maiese discovered that lubeluzole can prevent or reverse neuron damage up to six hours after anoxia, allowing a "window of opportunity" for neural recovery.

The newly funded neuroscience program will expand the collaboration between academia and industry to foster the investigation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration. "Dr. Maiese’s research is of great importance because it allows us to take a more rational approach to the treatment of ischemia," said Robert Lisak, MD, professor and chair of neurology. "This grant for training scientists and encouraging interaction with scientists from other laboratories will add to the quality of this research effort."

Dr. Maiese is director of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Cerebral Ischemia at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and he holds faculty appointments in the departments of neurology, anatomy & cell biology, the Center for Molecular and Cellular Toxicology and the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics.



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