October 31, 2011

Ted Dawson named director of the Institute for Cell Engineering

Ted Dawson, scientific director of the Institute for Cell Engineering, has been appointed as the institute’s director. He succeeds Chi Van Dang, ICE’s inaugural director, who became head of the University of Pennsylvania’s cancer center.

In a letter announcing Dawson’s appointment to colleagues, Edward D. Miller, the Frances Watt Baker, M.D., and Lenox D. Baker Jr., M.D., Dean of the Medical Faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said, “As ICE’s scientific director for the last year and a half, Ted already has been instrumental in energizing the institute’s extensive research programs. His considerable experience and leadership will serve it well, as he and his colleagues work to understand how the fate of cellular development is determined; to harness that information to select, modify and reprogram human cells; and to develop clinical approaches to combat the diseases that arise when cell functioning goes awry.”

Dawson received his medical degree and doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Utah and completed his neurology residency at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1990, he came to Johns Hopkins for a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience with Sol Snyder, University Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry in the School of Medicine. He soon joined the faculty and in 2004 was named the inaugural Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Professor of Neurodegenerative Diseases. He is now the director of the Morris K. Udall Parkinson’s Disease Research Center of Excellence, as well as a professor of neurology and neuroscience.

“Along with his wife, fellow neuroscientist Valina Dawson, founding director of the Neuroregeneration Program in ICE, Ted has achieved significant research breakthroughs in the neurobiology of disease and the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration,” Miller said. “The Dawsons’ important work has included discoveries revealing how the molecules nitric oxide and poly (ADP-ribose) within cells become ‘messengers of death,’ playing a prominent role in killing cells and nerves in the brain, heart and other organs during strokes, heart attacks and in the progress of such neurodegenerative diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“These seminal findings in the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration, enhanced through subsequent research by the Dawsons, have led to drugs—now being tested in clinical trials—that would target these molecules, block their operation and prevent the progressive destruction of cells and nerves in a variety of devastating neurodegenerative illnesses,” he said.