Doernbecher Children's Hospital scientist earns coveted Javits award

PORTLAND, Ore. - Stephen A. Back, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert in pediatric neurology at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Oregon Health & Science University, recently was awarded a prestigious $2,346,313 Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institute on Disease and Stroke (NINDS) for his pioneering work in the cellular and molecular cause(s) of brain injury in premature infants. NINDS is a branch of the National Institutes of Health.

"I am thrilled the NINDS continues to recognize the potential of the unique research models we have developed - some of which are not used anywhere else in the world. With the help of this long-term grant, we hope to devise therapies that cannot only reverse brain damage in infants but slow cognitive decline in aging adults as well," said Back, associate professor of pediatrics and neurology, Doernbecher Children's Hospital, OHSU School of Medicine.

Back's research looks at the mechanisms responsible for causing white matter brain injury in developing infants. White matter brain injury is the underlying basis for cerebral palsy, or CP, a condition in which permanent brain damage causes movement disorders, including inability to walk without an assistive device, inability to use one's arms and legs and weak torso muscles; as well as, intellectual challenges, including thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining or learning words.

Premature birth is the leading cause of cerebral palsy, explains Back, and in the United States, a child who will develop CP is born every 30 minutes. In addition, he says, children are 10 times more likely to have CP than cancer.

"Dr. Back's groundbreaking work is increasing our knowledge of what causes cerebral palsy and other important neurological diseases," said Stacy Nicholson, M.D., Doernbecher Physician-in Chief and Credit Unions for Kids Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, O

Contact: Tamara Hargens-Bradley
Oregon Health & Science University

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