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NEWS


For immediate use

March 12, 2004 -- No. 133

Photo note: To download a photo, see end of the release.

Swiss researcher to receive neuroscience prize endowed by UNC scientist Perl

By LESLIE H. LANG
UNC School of Medicine

CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has named Dr. Yves Barde as recipient of the fourth annual Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize.

Barde is professor of pharmacology and neurobiology at the Biocenter, University of Basel, in Switzerland.

The prize carries a $10,000 award and is given to recognize a seminal achievement in neuroscience.

Dr. Edward R. Perl is Sarah Graham Kenan professor of cell and molecular physiology at UNCís School of Medicine. Perlís work in pain mechanisms has been highly influential: Thirty years ago, he was the first to prove that a particular class of nerve cells (now called nociceptors) responds exclusively to stimuli perceived as painful. His work has had a decisive impact on modern pain research, and these cells are now targets of intensive efforts to find drugs blocking their function.

"Dr. Barde is the recipient of this yearís Perl Prize for having purified a protein from brain tissue that has a profound influence on the survival of neurons," said Dr. William Snider, director of the UNC Neuroscience Center and head of the selection committee for the prize.

"The discovery of this brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, has allowed the definition of an entire family of neuronal growth factors, the neurotrophins. These molecules are required for the survival and growth of many classes of neurons."

More recently, neuroscientists have discovered that BDNF levels in the brain are regulated by neural activity and that BDNF may be involved in learning and memory, Snider added.

Dr. William Roper, dean of the School of Medicine, will present the award on May 14 in Chapel Hill. Barde will give a public lecture immediately following the ceremony.

Previous awardees were Dr. David Julius of the University of California at San Francisco; Dr. Roderick MacKinnon of Rockefeller University; and, last yearís co-recipients, Dr. Linda Buck of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Dr. Richard Axel of Columbia University.

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Photo note: For a photo of Barde, click on http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/event/award/barde.jpg

Note: Contact Snider at (919) 843-8623 or william_snider@med.unc.edu.

School of Medicine contact: Les Lang, (919) 843-9687 or llang@med.unc.edu