Embargoed until 7 a.m. CT/8 a.m. ET, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 

HOUSTON, Feb. 22, 2017 — Scientists who have devoted their careers to stroke research and contributed to groundbreaking studies, as well as young stroke researchers making notable contributions to today’s understanding of the disease, will be honored for their work by the American Stroke Association during the International Stroke Conference 2017 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

  • E. Clarke Haley, Jr., M.D., University of Virginia in Charlottesville is honored with the David G. Sherman Award for outstanding lifetime contributions in basic or clinical stroke science.
  • Jaroslaw (Jarek) Aronowski, Ph.D., McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, wins the Thomas Willis Award for significant contributions to clinical stroke research.
  • Steven M. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts will be honored with the William M. Feinberg Award for significant contributions to basic science research.
  • Louise D. McCullough, M.D., Ph.D., McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, Houston, Texas will receive the Stroke Research Mentoring Award.
  • Kevin N. Sheth, M.D., Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut receives the Stroke Care in Emergency Medicine Award.
  • Steven C. Cramer, M.D., University of California, Irvine, will be awarded the Stroke Rehabilitation Award.
  • Yejie Shi, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania earns the Mordecai Y. T. Globus Award.
  • Alessandro Biffi, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts will receive the Robert G. Siekert Award.
  • Jennifer Dearborn-Tomazos, M.D., M.P.H., Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut will be given Vascular Cognitive Impairment Award.
  • Yao Yao, Ph.D., University of Minnesota receives the Stroke Basic Science Award.

Haley will give the David G. Sherman Lecture: “With a Little Help from My Friends: Seeking Consistent and Persuasive Evidence,” at 11 a.m. CT, during the Opening Main Event on Wednesday, Feb. 22 (Hall C).

The Sherman Award honors a Stroke Council Fellow and senior investigator who has made outstanding lifetime contributions in basic or clinical stroke science, has been a mentor to students, residents, fellows and junior faculty, and is or has been active in the Stroke Council's programs. The Sherman Award’s intention is to support the history and continuity between the first generation of stroke neuroscientists who attended the early years of the International Joint Conference on Stroke and Cerebral Circulation and the future of the ever-increasing new generation of stroke neurologists who attend the International Stroke Conference.

Haley is Emeritus Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Haley was involved in the initial dose ranging and safety studies of alteplase (tPA) in patients with acute ischemic stroke. He helped develop systems to treat acute stroke as an emergency, with the initial goal of transporting, evaluating, and treating stroke patients within 90 minutes of onset. This work led to the NINDS tPA Stroke Trial(s).

Building upon his experience with tPA, as well as nicardipine in subarachnoid hemorrhage for which he was the medical monitor, Haley was the principle investigator for early, middle, and/or late phase clinical trials for tirilazad, gavestinel, and tenecteplase for ischemic stroke using novel design features. He has chaired NIH Data and Safety Monitoring Boards for danaparoid, magnesium, and extracranial-to-intracranial bypass surgery, as well as trials in industry and Parkinson’s Disease. Haley has also mentored generations of stroke clinicians who have gone on to distinguished careers in both academic medicine and clinical care. 

Aronowski will deliver the Thomas Willis Lecture: “Brain Damage and Repair after Intracerebral Hemorrhage” during the Thursday Main Event at 10:35 a.m. CT, Thursday, Feb. 23 (Hall C).

The Willis Award recognizes an American Heart Association Stroke Council Fellow who has “actively engaged in and has made significant contributions to basic science research (animal/cell models) in stroke.” It honors Thomas Willis (1621-1675), a pioneer physician who provided the first detailed descriptions of the brain stem, cerebellum and ventricles along with hypotheses on their function.

Aronowski is Professor and Vice Chair and the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Chair in Neurology at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas.

Discoveries in his laboratory have resulted in clinical trials for ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage. He is an international research leader in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the pathology of acute cerebral ischemia, reperfusion injury, and secondary injury after intracerebral hemorrhage with emphasis on the role of transcription factors, neuroinflammation (including role of microglia, neutrophil, and oligodendroglia), stem cell therapy, and the use of ultrasound in tPA-mediated thrombolysis. In the field of experimental research, Aronowski has trained dozens of clinical stroke fellows and research fellows, scientists who today play instrumental roles in leading clinical stroke research around the world.

Greenberg will give the William M. Feinberg Award Lecture: “Big Pictures and Small Vessels” during the Closing Main Event at 11:33 a.m. CT, Friday, Feb.24 (Hall C).

The Feinberg Award is named for Dr. William Feinberg (1952-1997), a prominent stroke clinician-researcher and American Heart Association volunteer who contributed to a fuller understanding of the causes of stroke. The award recognizes a Stroke Council Fellow actively involved in patient-based research who has made significant contributions to clinical stroke research.

Greenberg is Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Vice Chair of Neurology for Faculty Development and Promotions, and holds the John J. Conway Endowed Chair in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He has served in many national and international leadership roles in the fields of stroke and neurology including principle investigator for the NINDS VCID biomarkers consortium coordinating center, president of the International CAA Association, chair of the NIH Acute Neurologic Injury and Epilepsy study section, co-chair of the NINDS Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias Summit subcommittee on vascular cognitive impairment, and chair of the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference. Greenberg has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed research articles and 70 chapters, reviews, and editorials in the areas of hemorrhagic stroke and small vessel brain disease. 

The annual Stroke Research Mentoring Award recognizes the outstanding achievements in mentoring future generations of researchers in the field of cerebrovascular disease. McCullough, a Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Distinguished Chair, Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, will present the Junior Investigator Grant Proposal Mentoring Session, at 8:45 a.m. CT, Wednesday, Feb. 22, (Room 310 A-C).

McCullough is a well-respected educator who is passionate about mentoring students and nurturing junior scientists. She is well recognized for her work in cerebral vascular disease and is known for her research identifying sex differences in cell death pathways during stroke, which are now recognized as major factors in the response to an ischemic insult. Her laboratory also studies aging and inflammation, and how these factors influence recovery after stroke.

The Emergency Medicine Award, for the highest scoring emergency medicine abstract, encourages investigators to undertake or continue research in the emergent phase of acute stroke treatment. Sheth,

Yale’s founding chief of the Division of Neurocritical Care and Emergency Neurology and Chief of Clinical Research for the Department of Neurology, will present abstract 15, “Long Term Outcomes of Intravenous Glyburide in Patients 70 Years of Age or Under: Subgroup Analysis from the Phase II GAMES-RP Study of Patients with Large Hemispheric Infarction,” at 7 a.m. CT, Wednesday, Feb. 22 (Grand Ballroom B).

Sheth’s new analysis suggests that patients under 70, who may be at highest risk for poor outcomes secondary to swelling that occurs after a large ischemic stroke, may have improved survival, better functional outcome and improved quality of life following treatment with IV glyburide.

The Stroke Rehabilitation Award encourages investigators to initiate or continue research in the basic and preclinical neuroscience of stroke recovery or clinical rehabilitation and recovery. Cramer, Professor of Neurology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of California, Irvine, will present abstract 8: "A Phase IIb Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo Controlled Study of GSK249320 for Stroke Recovery," at 7 a.m. CT, Wednesday, Feb. 22 (General Assembly C).

Cramer's research found that a monoclonal antibody (GSK249320), given by vein within 72 hours of stroke onset, showed no improvement in gait velocity as compared to placebo. The antibody was well tolerated and showed low immunogenicity, findings that may prove useful to future studies aiming to use a monoclonal antibody to modify activity in specific biological pathways to improve recovery from stroke.

The Globus Award is named for the late renowned cerebrovascular researcher and is given to a researcher in training. Shi, a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, will present abstract 49: “Endothelial-targeted Overexpression of Heat Shock Protein 27 Ameliorates Rapid Blood Brain Barrier Impairment and Improves Long Term Outcomes After Ischemia and Reperfusion” at 9:57 a.m. CT, Wednesday, Feb. 22 (General Assembly B).

Blood brain barrier damage resulting from ischemic stroke disrupts the neurovascular unit and leads to poor patient outcomes. Shi’s research showed that Heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) protects against blood brain barrier disruption after brain ischemia/reperfusion by inhibiting abnormal actin polymerization and junctional protein disassembly in brain microvascular endothelial cells. HSP27 may be a therapy for ischemic stroke in conjunction with reperfusion.”

The Siekert Award is named for the founding chair of the International Stroke Conference and is presented to an outstanding young scientist. Dr. Biffi, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is recognized for abstract 54: “APOE Genotype Modifies the Effect of Blood Pressure on Long-term Clinical Deterioration Following Intracerebral Hemorrhage,” which he will present at 2:18 p.m. CT, Wednesday, Feb. 22 (General Assembly B).

Dr. Biffi’s research team found that the most potent genetic risk factor for cerebral bleeding, the ε4 variant of the APOE gene, amplifies the negative effect of high blood pressure on the well-being of intracerebral hemorrhage survivors. This genetic variant may therefore identify individuals most likely to benefit from aggressive blood pressure reduction, thus raising the possibility of genetic screening informing hypertension treatment goals in hemorrhagic stroke survivors.

The Vascular Cognitive Impairment Award encourages investigators to undertake or continue research or clinical work in the field of vascular cognitive impairment. Dr. Dearborn-Tomazos works at the Yale School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Neurology in the Division of Vascular Neurology and specializes in the care of patients with cerebrovascular disorders of the brain including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. She will present abstract 95: “Nutrition and Cognitive Decline Over 21-years: Results from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC),” at 4:06 p.m. CT, Wednesday, Feb. 22 (Room 310 A-C).

In this population-based study, Dearborn-Tomazos analyzed whether midlife dietary patterns would be associated with cognitive decline over 21-years. She found although participants with a diet pattern high in meat and fried foods had lower cognition at time of first assessment, dietary patterns at midlife did not carry independent associations with cognitive decline.

The Stroke Basic Science Award encourages investigators to undertake or continue basic or translational science research in the field of cerebrovascular disease. Yao, an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, will present abstract 218: “Pericytic Laminin Regulates Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity in an Age-Dependent Manner,” at 8:45 a.m. CT. Friday, Feb. 24 (General Assembly C).

Laminin, a major component of the basement membrane, has many isoforms and different cells synthesize distinct laminin isoforms. Previous studies from Yao’s laboratory showed that loss of astrocytic laminin induces age-dependent and region-specific blood brain barrier breakdown and intracerebral hemorrhage, suggesting a critical role of astrocytic laminin in vascular integrity maintenance. Yao’s current results strongly suggest that pericyte-derived laminin also actively regulates blood brain barrier integrity and vessel density in an age-dependent manner, but to a lesser extent.

Additional Resources:

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