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Hebrew U. researcher to receive prize for contribution to stem cell therapy in brain regeneration

Dr. Adi Mizrahi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is to be awarded the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Discovery in Medical Research for 2009. The prize will be presented to Dr Mizrahi in Jerusalem at a special function on June 9, during the 72nd meeting of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University.

The prize is being awarded to Dr. Mizrahi of the Department of Neurobiology at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences for his contribution to the understanding of the formation of synapses (nerve connections) in the central nervous system (CNS), and for the importance of his group's findings for the development of techniques of CNS repair.

Animal models and other methodologies developed in his laboratory have made it possible to track newly formed neurons in live adult brains and to identify and explore the key steps by which new neurons become connected to pre-existing neurons. These new approaches are essential steps towards therapies which will eventually allow the regeneration of brain structures from stem cell technology.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Discovery in Medical Research was announced by the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund - a Sydney-based private trust which raises funds for medical research and other scholarship at the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and aims to promote cooperative work between the two universities.

The prize, for scientists under 40 years of age, recognizes discoveries which have contributed to the understanding of disease. It is awarded in alternate years at the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The 2009 prize is the second time the prize is being awarded in Jerusalem.

Nominating Dr Mizrahi's work, his nominator, Prof Yosef Yarom, wrote, "Dr Mizrahi's novel work breaks new ground in understanding how neuronal stem cells integrate into adult neural circuits and are maintained there. It opens the way to uncover the physiological role of newborn neurons in mature circuits and improve understanding of the cues that allow stem cells to develop and regenerate injured tissues to restore function in the damaged brain. The possibility to image new stem cells in the intact brain, which has been opened up by Dr. Mizrahi's work, will challenge new therapies that promote nerve regeneration in the central nervous system."

The significance of Dr Mizrahi's work has been acknowledged by its publication and citation in many highly ranked journals, and by invitations to present his findings at many international conferences.

For further information, contact:

Rebecca Zeffert, Dept. of Media Relations, the Hebrew University, tel: 02-588-1641, cell: 054-882-0661

or Orit Sulitzeanu, Hebrew University spokesperson, tel: 02-5882910, cell: 054-882-0016

Rebecca Zeffert | Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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