UCLA and University of Bern neuroscientists receive Sanberg Awards from ASNTR

Tampa, Fla. (April 30, 2018) – At the 25th Annual Conference of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair (ASNTR), incorporated with the 15th International Symposium on Neural Transplantation and Restoration, held April 25-29, 2018 in Clearwater Beach, Florida, ASNTR awarded The 2018 Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair to S. Thomas Carmichael, MD, PhD, a neurologist neuroscientist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). ASNTR also presented The Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award to Hans R. Widmer, PhD, a professor, neuroscientist, and neurosurgeon at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

The 2018 Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair

The 2018 award was presented to Dr. Carmichael in recognition of his career-long, groundbreaking work in stroke recovery mechanisms. He received both his MD and PhD from the Washington University School of Medicine and currently serves as chair and professor in UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine. On the UCLA faculty since 2001, he also serves as both attending physician on UCLA's inpatient neurologic rehabilitation unit and the acute stroke service.

Over his career, Dr. Carmichael has combined genetic, molecular, cellular, and neurobehavioral approaches to his study of post-stroke brain repair. One of Dr. Carmichael's most significant contributions to stroke research is his mechanistic demonstration of the repair process in the peri-infarct cortex, the site of long-term physiologic brain changes after ischemic stroke. His demonstration revealed the ability of the adult brain to form new connections, called "axonal sprouting neurons," in areas where neurons had been damaged by stroke. Through his work, axonal sprouting has emerged as an important component of the central nervous system's response to injury and may be fundamentally critical for the plasticity of the recovering brain.

His contributions to neural stem cell transplantation have been aimed at increasing the survival of transplanted neural stem cells in the area of the brain damaged by stroke while also clarifying which drugs may most beneficially affect the brain following stroke.

"Dr. Carmichael's contributions to stroke research are highly significant," says Dr. Li-Ru Zhao, associate professor, Department of Neurosurgery, SUNY Upstate Medical University. "His extraordinary studies have greatly advanced the understanding of mechanisms underlying stroke recovery and qualify him for this important award."

The Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair is named for Bernard Sanberg, father of ASNTR co-founder Dr. Paul Sanberg (University of South Florida). After Bernard Sanberg died of a stroke in 1999, the award bearing his name was established and is presented by the ASNTR annually to an individual who has made outstanding research contributions in the field of neural therapy and repair. First presented in 2000, the award is presented every year at ASNTR's Annual Meeting.

Recent past winners of the Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair include: Li-Ru Zhao, M.D., Ph.D, State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University; Marina E. Emborg, M.D., Ph.D. – University of Wisconsin-Madison; John D. Elsworth, PhD, Yale School of Medicine, Douglas Kondziolka, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center; Mike Modo, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; Timothy Collier, PhD, Michigan State University; Donald Eugene Redmond, MD, Yale University; Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD, University of California – Irvine.

The Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award

The Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award is presented periodically by ASNTR to an outstanding scientist who has made a significant contribution to the field of brain repair.

The 2018 Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award was presented to Dr. Widmer in recognition of his research, which spans therapeutic strategies for neuropathological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, to advancements in neuronal regeneration and cell transplantation. Dr. Widmer, who received his PhD in 1989 from the University of Zurich, currently serves as Research Executive and Senior Research Associate in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Bern. His research covers a wide area of interests, including neuropathological diseases, neuroregeneration, neural differentiation, cell transplantation and microsurgery with a focus on developing and improving therapy strategies for neurological disorders. Cell transplantation utilizing growth factors as a therapy to aid in the survival of neurons is his current focus for treating Parkinson's disease.

"Dr. Widmer has been at the forefront of the cell therapy field for Parkinson's disease for more than two decades," says Dr. Mike Modo, professor of radiology and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. "His focus on delivery of growth factors to support the survival of dopaminergic cells using cell encapsulation or sustained delivery from capsulated is gaining increased significance with the advent of employing biomaterials to repair the damaged brain."

Past recipients of The Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award include: Eng H. Lo, Ph.D., Harvard University & Massachusetts General Hospital; Cesar V. Borlongan, PhD, University of South Florida; Sean Savitz, MD, University of Texas Medical School at Houston; Steven Dunnett, PhD, Cardiff University; Barry Hoffer, PhD, Case Western Reserve University; and Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD, Lund University – Wallenburg Neuroscience Center.


ASNTR's 26th Annual Conference will be held April 25-28, 2019 in Clearwater Beach, Florida. For more information, email Donna Morrison [email protected] or visit the ASNTR website http://www.ASNTR.org

ASNTR is a society for basic and clinical neuroscientists using a variety of technologies to better understand how the nervous system functions and establish new procedures for its repair in response to trauma or neurodegenerative disease. Member scientists employ stem/neural cell transplantation, gene therapy, trophic factor and neuroprotective compound administration and other approaches.

Media Contact

Donna Morrison
[email protected]