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J. Marc Simard, MD, PhD, Receives Research Lecturer of the Year Award

Thursday, October 11, 2007

 Dr. Simard (center) is congratulated by Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, MBA, PhD and Bruce Jarrell, MD, Vice Dean for Research and Academic Affairs.

J. Marc Simard, MD, PhD was the recipient of the 2007 University of Maryland, Baltimore's Research Lecturer of the Year Award, which is presented each year during Founder's Week. Dr. Simard, Professor of Neurosurgery, Pathology and Physiology, and Chief of the Neurosurgical Service at the Baltimore VA Hospital, was recognized for his team's discovery of a new ion channel. He gave a lecture about this discovery on October 10 in Davidge Hall.


Using the patch clamp, an extremely sensitive method for testing and recording electrical currents within cells, Dr. Simard was able to study the regulation of ion channels in vascular cells of the brain and spinal cord. Ion channels are proteins that help to establish and control electrical activity across the plasma membrane of all living cells by allowing the flow of ions down their electrochemical gradient. They are present in the membranes that surround all biological cells. Dr. Simard and his team discovered a novel ion channel that plays a vital role in cell death following a stroke or spinal cord injury. Surprisingly, this channel is blocked by the same drugs used to treat adult-onset diabetes.


Simard has patented his use of diabetes drugs in stroke and spinal-cord injury because he believes these drugs are a highly promising – and long overdue – treatment for these debilitating conditions. The audience of fellow physicians, researchers and professors, seemed to agree. Dr. Simard’s discovery generated a lot of excitement, as well as a lot of questions about how the new ion channel might help other medical conditions. Dr. Simard and his team are planning to explore such questions in future research.

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 The UMB colors fly behind a poster of Dr. Simard honoring his award.

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