Corporate Advisory Board
The Child Neurology Foundation announces the award of a research grant in the field of child neurology to be made at the Child Neurology Society meeting in the fall. The selected investigator will receive a two-year grant of $50,000 per year. The award will be called the Shields Award and is supported by the Winokur Family Foundation. The CNF Shields Award provides two years of funding at $50,000 per year to support translational or clinical research to a child neurologist early in his/her academic career. The Foundation recognizes that development of clinician researchers is extremely important to the field of child neurology. A junior faculty member who has developed clinical research skills, and has a plan for further development of that research or has basic science research skills related to child neurology, and who has a plan to translate the new knowledge into clinical care for children with neurologic diseases would be eligible for this award. Candidates for the award are asked to submit brief letters of intent which will be scored by members of the CNF Scientific Award Committee. The committee that reviews the applications includes child neurologists who are also successful scientists, including several who have been recipients of CNF awards. In addition to scientific criteria such as the soundness of the hypothesis, feasibility, and relevance to clinical pediatric neurological disorders, reviewers look for evidence that the award will have a major career impact.
Michael Kruer attended Arizona State University, where he studied Microbiology and Psychology. He spent a year in Bill Duckworth’s insulin biochemistry laboratory before medical school, motivating him to pursue a career as a physician-scientist. During medical school at the University of Arizona, Michael joined Scott Sherman’s lab and worked on the delivery of ion channel transgenes to modulate cortical excitability in vitro. This research was supported by the American Epilepsy Society and Alpha Omega Alpha. After graduating from medical school in 2004, he performed postdoctoral work at the Translational Genomics Research Institute, where he studied the role of genomic copy number variants in autism. Dr. Kruer then trained in pediatrics at Phoenix Children’s Hospital/Maricopa Medical Center. In 2007 he entered fellowship training at Oregon Health & Science University in neurodevelopmental disabilities. During fellowship, Michael developed his clinical interest in neurogenetic disorders while training in molecular neurogenetics at the bench. Dr. Kruer’s work during fellowship focused on the group of inherited extrapyramidal disorders characterized by neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA). A highlight of this training period was the opportunity to train with John Hardy and Henry Houlden’s research group at Queen Square, London. This work culminated in the characterization of a new form of NBIA caused by mutations in the fatty acid hydroxylase FA2H. In 2010, Dr. Kruer was selected as a Clinical Research Fellow by the American Academy of Neurology. After completing his fellowship in 2011, Dr. Kruer joined the faculty of the Sanford Children’s Hospital and Sanford Children’s Health Research Center in Sioux Falls, SD. Currently, Dr. Kruer practices general pediatric neurology and maintains subspecialty interests in neurogenetics, movement disorders, and neuroimmunology. His research activities are supported by the rare disease initiative at Sanford under the direction of mentor David Pearce.
Michael has a strong interest in international neurology. He maintains several active international collaborations and has taken an active role in the Sanford Children’s World Clinics. His research has been supported by the NIH, the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute, the NBIA Disorders Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society.Dr. Kruer’s research is focused on the characterization of single gene causes of neurological disease. This work encompasses gene discovery, molecular mechanisms of disease, neuropathology, and the use of animal models. His current work is focused on identifying the molecular basis for forms of hereditary dystonia. The studies supported by the Shields Award will apply next-generation sequencing techniques to identify novel genes that lead to dystonia in highly genetically-informative families.
I am both honored and humbled to be selected for the Shields Award. This award will provide me with the resources I need to characterize new molecular pathways that, when disrupted, may lead to dystonia. It is my great hope that these studies will lay the foundation for the development of valuable model systems which may ultimately be used to develop better therapies for this disabling disease. The generous support of the Child Neurology Foundation at this crucial stage of my career will be invaluable in enabling me to achieve these goals.
Dr. Charu Venkatesan
Charu Venkatesan graduated from Columbia University with Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology in 1992. Following graduation, she spent two years in the laboratory of Dr. Chiye Aoki at the Center for Neural Science at New York University where she first became interested in mechanisms regulating central nervous system development. She enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Stony Brook University and received her PhD in Neurobiology in 2000 and medical doctorate in 2002. Her PhD thesis done under the guidance of Dr. Mary Kritzer used a rodent model to examine the role of gonadal hormones in the development of cerebral cortical circuits. After graduation, she completed her internship and residency in Pediatrics in 2004 and residency in Child Neurology in 2007 at Children’s Memorial Hospital at Northwestern University. Upon completion of clinical training, she became a faculty member in the Division of Neurology at Children’s Memorial Hospital. She initially worked in Mark Wainwright’s laboratory and examined the role of microglial activation in the pathogenesis of white matter injury following traumatic brain injury. Her research activities have been supported by the Davee Foundation as well as NIH K12 (NICHD). In 2010, she joined Dr. Jack Kessler’s laboratory to gain expertise in neural stem cell biology.
Dr. Venkatesan’s current research interest is in perinatal brain injury, particularly hypoxic ischemic injury. The long-term objective of her research is to identify signaling mechanisms that regulate oligodendrocyte differentiation in the normal and diseased states. The studies funded by the Child Neurology Foundation Shield’s Award examine the regulation of oligodendrocyte precursor cell differentiation by 1-integrin signaling pathway. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jack Kessler, she is using transgenic mice and in vivo and in vitro strategies to carry out her studies. Clinically, she is a general neurologist with an interest in neonatal neurology.
“It is a great honor to receive the Child Neurology Foundation Shield’s Award. This award will allow me to explore mechanisms regulating neural stem cell differentiation in healthy and injured neonatal brains. I feel that understanding the factors that regulate oligodendrogenesis in the neonatal brain may lead to therapeutic strategies that harness endogenous neural precursor cells for repair, regeneration and restoration of function after perinatal hypoxic ischemic injury. Support from the Shield’s award will help advance my career goal of combining clinical and research activities effectively in order to be a successful independent physician-scientist.”
Child Neurology Foundation
201 Chicago Ave, #200
Minneapolis, MN 55415