Valina L. Dawson, Ph.D.
Dr. Dawson was trained as a Toxicologist and Pharmacologist. Her postdoctoral studies of NMDA receptor physiology lead to an interest in NMDA receptor mediated cell death. Her research was the first to identify nitric oxide (NO) as a key calcium-dependent molecule that mediates glutamate neurotoxicity. She has continued to probe the glutamate neurotoxicity program of cell death identifying a pivotal role for poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase (PARP). Recent work has revealed a new interaction between the nucleus and activation of PARP by neurotoxic NO production and mitochondrial release of apoptosis inducing factor, in the integration of the excitotoxic death signal.
In addition to investigating cell death pathways, Dr. Dawson's research involves gene discovery projects to identify the proteins responsible for mediating the profound protection afforded to the brain by the phenomena of 'preconditioning'. Identification of survival pathways will hopefully open up new therapeutic opportunities.
The ultimate goal of the on-going research in Dr. Dawson's laboratory is to ultimately apply the strategies and techniques identified and refined in the basic science laboratory to clinical treatment of neurologic disorders.