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New Northwestern center targets brain disorders

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern University has received $3 million from the Falk Foundation to establish the Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, an interdisciplinary research center within the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

"Our mission is to use innovative molecular biology techniques to identify and evaluate genes responsible for neurological disorders such as brain tumors, learning and memory disorders, depression and epilepsy," said Joseph Moskal, center director and research professor in the department of biomedical engineering at McCormick. "This understanding will lead to the development of effective new drugs."

The Falk Center will act, in part, as a "bench-to-bedside" bridge between center scientists and University biomedical engineers and Nyxis Neurotherapies Inc., a biotechnology company founded by Moskal and Jan Leestma, M.D., a former associate professor of neurology and pathology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.

Translational research at the Falk Center will move important discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace. Falk, which currently has a staff of seven, will drive the center's own research objectives as well as facilitate collaborations with University researchers.

At present, two therapeutic developments are approaching the product stage. One is a gene-based therapy for the treatment of malignant brain tumors in both children and adults.

"Discovering genes specific to brain tumors and their invasive behavior is one of the major thrusts of the Falk Center's work," said Moskal, who also has an appointment in neurological surgery at Feinberg.

"The current treatment for malignant brain tumors is not very effective. One of the big hurdles in brain cancer research is learning how to effectively deliver drugs to cancerous cells that may remain after surgery. By aligning the Falk Center with McCormick's biomedical engineering department, we are
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
10-Feb-2003


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