W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, and Professor of Neurological Surgery has received the National Institute of Health Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award for demonstrating scientific excellence and productivity in neurological research. The Javits Award recognizes investigators with a distinguished record of substantial contributions to neurological science. “This award is very much appreciated, and I think recognizes not only my own accomplishments over the years but also the importance of team science allowing multidisciplinary programs to make significant contributions in discovery, translational and clinical research. I believe the award is also a recognition of the outstanding neuroscience research community at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine”, Dietrich said. Over the past four decades, Dietrich’s work has focused on clarifying secondary injury mechanisms after neurotrauma and cerebral ischemia in the search for clinically relevant therapeutic targets with the goal of improving function after CNS injury. Dietrich and colleagues have been successful in translating experimental findings to the clinic including the use of therapeutic hypothermia and targeted temperate management to improve outcomes in severe acute injury conditions as well as cell therapies for spinal cord and peripheral nerve injuries.
Dr. Dietrich received his PhD in Anatomy at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 1979 working with Dr. John Povlishock where he investigated the importance of free radicals on the microvascular responses to traumatic brain injury. He then conducted postdoctoral training at Washington University, St. Louis in the Department of Pharmacology working on metabolic circuit plasticity with Drs. Oliver Lowry and Thomas Woolsey using the whisker barrel circuit. In 1981, Dietrich was recruited to the University of Miami, Department of Neurology and worked with colleagues in the Cerebral Vascular Disease Research Center, where he conducted preclinical work in both global and focal cerebral ischemia models. In 1997, Dietrich became Scientific Director of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Department of Neurological Surgery which is a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami. For over 25 years, he has led a large multidisciplinary research team focusing on innovative strategies to obtain the knowledge necessary for improving function and quality of life in people living with paralysis and other neurological conditions. During this time, Dietrich and colleagues established a therapeutic pipeline to promote the translation of important discoveries to the clinic including FDA approved clinical trials for acute and chronic neurological injuries.
His research includes investigating neurotrauma, cerebral ischemia and stroke as well as neurodegenerative disorders. Current NIH funding is supporting studies to clarify the role of head trauma as a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Another funded study which is the basis for the Javits Neuroscience Award is studying the potential benefits of human cell-derived exosomes on protecting and repairing the nervous system after traumatic brain injury. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Dietrich is dedicated to training the next generation of scientists and academic clinicians in the field of neuroscience and neurological disorders. He has a history of training graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars to become leaders in both academia and industry.
The Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award is a conditional seven-year R37 research grant awarded every year to a handful of scientists who are selected by the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council. The awardees must have demonstrated exceptional scientific excellence and productivity in one of the areas of research supported by the NINDS, have proposals of the highest scientific merit, and be judged highly likely to be able to continue the research on the cutting edge of their science for the next seven years. In 1983, Congress established the Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences, to honor the late Senator Jacob Javits (R-NY) who was diagnosed with ALS and an advocate for support of research in a wide variety of disorders of the brain and nervous system. “I’m very grateful for this recognition after many years conducting medical research and acknowledge my collaborators for helping to make our programs successful. I also thank NINDS for granting a Javits Award to a researcher who has dedicated his career to understanding the pathophysiology of CNS injury and studying new approaches to protecting and repairing the injured nervous system”.