Scientist's discovery of role of Aquaporin in spinal injuries recognized with research funding award

Dr. Olivera Nesic-Taylor, an assistant professor in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas, Galveston, was presented with the Erica Nader Award for 'breakthrough research in spinal cord regeneration.'

"Dr. Nesic-Taylor's work in isolating proteins, such as aquaporin, that act to prevent tissue regeneration following spinal cord injury represents a major leap forward in our understanding of a problem that has long plagued orthopedic and neurological specialists," said Marc R. Viscogliosi, a principal of Viscogliosi Bros. LLC., a New York investment firm that conceived and has been funding the award since 2004.

Mr. Viscogliosi was addressing the 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) today in Tampa, FL. The $10,000 research grant award is the largest of several awards administered by ASIA. It is named after Ms. Nader who sustained a critical spinal injury in a 2001 auto accident and has since become a major figure in advocating and supporting the type of research cited in the award criteria.

Dr. Marcalee Sipski Alexander, President & Director of ASIA, said: "Dr. Nesic-Taylor is an outstanding young scientist in the field of nerve regeneration research. Her discoveries could lead to development of treatments capable of neutralizing or inhibiting the affect of proteins that allow onset of edema and syringomelia, and other conditions that cause paraplegia."

The inaugural winner of the Erica Nader Award was Ping Wu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Neuroscience, also from the University of Texas at Galveston. Dr. Wu's work led to breakthrough stem cell research in spinal cord nerve cells.

In 2005, Damien Pearse, Ph.D., was chosen for his work in the field of nerve regeneration research into Myelin-associated inhibitors of axonal regeneration in the adult mammalian central nervous system. The work was done while Dr. Pearse was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery: Project to Cure Paralysis at The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Davies, a spinal cord injury scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, received the Erica Nader Award last year for his work on decorin, a molecule that has been shown to reduce the formation of scar tissue at the site of injury and promote nerve fiber growth and repair in the spinal cords of rats.

This year's recipient, Dr. Nesic-Taylor, has presented her work in more than 40 medical forums, including the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. She has become an authority on spinal cord injury and was recently invited to serve on the scientific advisory panel of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Foundation (for 'paralyzed veterans').

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