Neural stem cell scientist Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, PhD
, had a very early start to his day on Wednesday, receiving word in the wee hours that he was one of three scientists named to receive the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.
He shares the prize with Joseph Altman, of the University of Purdue (Indiana) and Giacomo Rizzolatti of the University of Parma. The award will be bestowed this fall in Oviedo, Spain, the headquarters of the Prince of Asturias Foundation.
Citing the scientists as "worldwide leaders in neurology," the Foundation credited them with providing "solid proof of the regeneration of neurons in adult brains (neurogenesis) and for the discovery of what are known as mirror neurons," adding, "(t)heir research has opened up promising pathways to a new generation of treatments to fight neurodegenerative and brain-related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease or Autism."
Alvarez-Buylla, specifically, was recognized for identifying neural stem cells in the brains of mammals, and for his ongoing research on their behavior - and potential therapeutic use - in treating diseases. He is exploring their possible role in the development of the most common type of brain tumor, the glioma, and their potential use in regenerating brain tissue damaged by injury or degenerative diseases. More generally, he is studying the way in which adult neural stem cells behave and function - their development into young neurons, the migration of these neurons from their site of birth to their final destinations, and their function in the adult brain.
Read more at Jennifer O'Brien, UCSF News Office