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SRI International Expands Neurosciences Research with New Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Program

Friday, February 19, 2010 Research News J E 4
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MENLO PARK, Calif., Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development institute, announced today that a new Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Program has been established within its Center for Health Sciences. This new SRI group of neuroscientists and researchers working at the cutting edge of science brings $6.2 million of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Funding also comes from the California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Backus Foundation, the Alzheimer's Association, and commercial clients.

"To date, there are no known cures for neurodegenerative diseases, which can be extremely debilitating and have a tremendous impact on many of the most important activities of daily living," said Gary E. Swan, Ph.D., director of SRI's Center for Health Sciences. "The Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Program is an important addition to our Center. It expands neuroscience research already conducted at SRI, which includes study of analgesia and addiction, sleep and circadian rhythms, neuroimaging, molecular genetics, and human sleep aspects of alcohol and nicotine dependence, to include another area in need of novel therapeutic targets."

Senior Scientists to Lead New Neurodegenerative Disease Research Program

Senior scientists Maryka Quik, Ph.D., Donato Di Monte, M.D., and Amy Manning-Bog, Ph.D., have joined SRI to lead the new research program. The team brings years of research experience on mechanisms and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, as well as nicotine addiction.  

"By joining SRI, our research team now has new opportunities for scientific interaction and collaboration with colleagues involved in a diverse range of research areas using a vast array of molecular and functional approaches pertinent to neurodegenerative diseases," said Maryka Quik, Ph.D., program director of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Program. "We are looking forward to novel and exciting research endeavors at SRI."

The scientists will focus their research on the molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of central nervous system (CNS) neurodegenerative processes, and help identify potential therapeutics that control disease symptoms and slow disease progression. They will also evaluate the impact of environmental toxins as they interact with genetic risk factors that increase the incidence and severity of neurological diseases.

Dr. Quik focuses her research on the relationship between the nicotinic cholinergic system and the dopaminergic system in Parkinson's disease and nicotine addiction. Most recently, she was a professor and senior research scientist at the Parkinson's Institute. Prior to that, she was a professor in the Department of Pharmacology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University in England and received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from McGill University. Dr. Quik has published more than 120 research articles and reviews.

Dr. Di Monte, senior research physician in the Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Program, has extensive experience and expertise in models and mechanisms of neuronal degeneration. Most recently, he was a professor and director of the Basic Research Program at the Parkinson's Institute. He completed postdoctoral training in biochemistry and toxicology first at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and then at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. He received his doctorate of medicine with honors from the University of Bari, Italy, where he specialized in internal medicine. He has published more than 140 research articles and reviews.

Dr. Manning-Bog, program manager of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Program, focuses on Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Gaucher's disease, and the role of genetic and environmental factors in their pathology. She was most recently an assistant professor at the Parkinson's Institute. Prior to that, she was a scientist/manager at Renovis, Inc., where she investigated novel therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative disorders. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neuropharmacology at Wayne State University and a second fellowship at the Parkinson's Institute to investigate neurodegenerative mechanisms in Parkinson's disease. She earned her doctorate in molecular and cell biology and biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has written more than 15 research publications.

About SRI International's Center for Health Sciences

Serving government and commercial clients in the health arena, SRI's Center for Health Sciences uses a multidisciplinary research approach to address complex challenges that arise at the interface of the basic sciences, clinical medicine, health care economics, and the regulatory and legal environments.

About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International is one of the world's leading independent research and technology development organizations. SRI, which was founded by Stanford University as Stanford Research Institute in 1946 and became independent in 1970, has been meeting the strategic needs of clients and partners for more than 60 years. Perhaps best known for its invention of the computer mouse and interactive computing, SRI has also been responsible for major advances in networking and communications, robotics, drug discovery and development, advanced materials, atmospheric research, education research, economic development, national security, and more. The nonprofit institute performs sponsored research and development for government agencies, businesses, and foundations. SRI also licenses its technologies, forms strategic alliances, and creates spin-off companies. In 2008, SRI's consolidated revenues, including its wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, Sarnoff Corporation, were approximately $490 million.

SOURCE SRI International

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