Dr. Matthew Rasband, professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, has been awarded the distinguished Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.

Up to 12 of these awards can be given out yearly to researchers across the country. It provides up to seven years of research funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Awardees are nominated and chosen by members of the NINDS. They are recognized for their history of exceptional talent and preeminent scientific achievements as well as their ability to continue to contribute cutting edge research and new ideas to the field of neuroscience.

Pursuing transformative science

"This award provides an extended period of funding that will allow my laboratory to pursue transformative science," said Rasband. "I am very grateful to the NINDS for this award, and would like to acknowledge the contributions of the many outstanding graduate students and postdocs I have had the good fortune to mentor and work with in my laboratory."

Rasband’s work focuses on the molecular mechanisms that regulate axon function. For example, he studies how ion channels are clustered at specialized sites in axons and how these contribute to electrical signaling in both healthy and diseased neurons. Furthermore, he studies the molecular basis of signaling between glial cells and axons in the brain and spinal cord during normal developmental myelination (the development of the myelin sheath around the axon of a neuron), and how myelination regulates ion channel clustering. Myelination plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Nervous system diseases

Rasband’s lab also studies the process of demyelination, remyelination, and axonal injury in disorders such as multiple sclerosis and injuries of various types, including traumatic brain injury. He works to understand the underlying mechanisms of many nervous system diseases and injuries that result in the disruption of ion channels at the sites that initiate and propagate action potentials (when a neuron sends information along the nerve fiber). He has published extensively on this and related topics.

"Dr. Rasband’s pioneering basic research has contributed greatly to our understanding of how individual nerve cells create specific molecular domains essential for information processing," said Dr. Story Landis, director of NINDS, "His work is beginning to provide critical insight into axonal disorders."

The Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award is a part of the Sen. Jacob Javits Awards in the Neurosciences, established in 1983 in honor of its namesake who lived with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS