A note from Neurologist-in-Chief Scott Pomeroy, MD, PhD

Scott Pomeroy, MD, PhD

Dear colleagues:

As we dive into a new year, I’d like to share our Neurology news and faculty updates since our last issue.

Faculty news and awards

It’s my pleasure to congratulate two of Boston Children’s rock star neuroscientists on a major accomplishment. Beth Stevens, PhD and Elizabeth Engle, MD have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine for their contributions to medical science. Dr. Stevens is recognized for her transformative work with microglia, elevating what were once considered support cells to important players in diseases like schizophrenia, which are characterized by synapse loss. Dr. Engle heads the only lab in the world studying the genetic underpinnings of eye-movement disorders. Her work has identified mutations causing both common and rare disorders and has provided a greater understanding of the functioning of cranial nerves.

Zhigang He, PhD, BM, was the recipient of the Reeve-Irvine Medal for critical contributions to the field of spinal cord repair. Dr. He presented his talk, entitled Viral vectors for gene modifications to enable regeneration after spinal cord injury, at the 2019 Reeve-Irvine Medal Symposium in November.

The Fondation Pour l'Audition awarded Jeffrey Holt, PhD, the 2019 Scientific Grand Prize for the discovery of the function of TMC1, the pore-forming subunit of the hair cell transduction channel that converts sound into electrical signals. Watch this video about Dr. Holt and his work.

Gwenaelle Géléoc, PhD has accepted the position of Director of Student Affairs for the graduate program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology (SHBT) at Harvard University.

New grants and projects

Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, PhD, and collaborators including Peter Sorger, PhD, and Bruce Bean, PhD (Harvard Medical School) were awarded a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for their project, which endeavors to develop non-opioid treatments for pain. More on the project here.

Zhigang He and collaborator Kuan Hong Wang, PhD, University of Rochester Medical Center, were awarded an NIH/NCCIH grant to identify neural mechanisms involved in cannabinoid signaling in order to optimize cannabinoids’ analgesic effects. Insights obtained from the study should be useful in designing novel strategies for neuropathic pain treatment.

Tom Schwarz, PhD, was awarded an NIH/NINDS R37 grant for a study that seeks to understand the role of kinetochore proteins in the formation of synaptic terminals, dendrites, and dendritic spines. We reported some of his related work last year.

Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, also received funding from NIH to investigate the underlying causes of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability by comparing the disease pathophysiology of genetic subsets of ASD, specifically TSC1/2, PTEN, and SHANK3, in hopes of discovering therapeutic targets.

Lastly, several Boston Children’s physicians including Mustafa Sahin and David Miller, MD, PhD, with collaborators in the NDD Exome Scoping Review Work Group, released a consensus statement recommending exome sequencing over chromosomal microarray for evaluation of explained neurodevelopmental disorders.

Thanks for your interest. As always, please reach out with any questions or comments.

Sincerely yours,
Scott L. Pomeroy, MD, PhD, FAAN, FANA

Scott Pomeroy