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Scripps Florida Scientist Awarded Prestigious Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award

JUPITER, FL, February 20, 2013 – Ron Davis, PhD, chair of the Neuroscience Department on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute, has been selected to receive a prestigious $3.5 million Jacob K. Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award for his work on the complex biology of memory formation and the disorders that disrupt it.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one agency within the National Institutes of Health, awards the special merit grant to investigators “who have a history of exceptional talent, imagination and preeminent scientific achievement in the field of neurological science, and who are expected to be exceptionally productive during the tenure of the grant.” The initial award is for a period of four years, with a three-year extension upon request. Seven year grants are unusual within the NIH system. 

“I am honored to receive the Javits Award,” Davis said. “The award is a continuation of the first grant I received from the NINDS some 30 years ago, so it’s very much a personal milestone for me. I am extremely grateful to the NINDS for their support of my research program across these three decades.”

“The Javits award gives scientists like Ron Davis, who have made exceptional contributions, an even greater opportunity to understand the complex biology involved in the causes and, hopefully, treatment of neurological diseases,” said Story Landis, PhD, NINDS director. “His research on the mechanisms underlying memory could play an important role in the developing treatments.”

The new study will focus on an area of memory formation that has remained relatively mysterious—the role that active forgetting plays in learning and memory. Davis and his colleagues recently showed that dopamine signaling to specific neurons in the brain provides a signal to forget.

“We really know very little about the molecular and cellular biology of active forgetting,” Davis said, “but we believe that it has profound importance for understanding a host of disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, and even some aspects of autism.”

The award, which was mandated by an act of Congress in 1983, honors the memory of the late Senator Jacob K. Javits of New York who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a severe neurological disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Senator Javits was a passionate advocate for research into a variety of disorders of the brain and nervous system. Scientists receiving the award are selected by the Advisory Council for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The number of the new National Institutes of Health grant is 2R37NS019904-30.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.

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Ron Davis, PhD, is chair of the Neuroscience Department on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute.
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images/davis_ron/davis_ron.jpg