Two Yale School of Medicine Researchers Receive Prestigious Award

Two researchers at Yale School of Medicine, Pasko Rakic, M.D., Ph.D., and Richard Lifton, M.D., have been selected for the medical research awards of The Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation.

Two researchers at Yale School of Medicine, Pasko Rakic, M.D., Ph.D., and Richard Lifton, M.D., have been selected for the medical research awards of The Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation.

The foundation annually recognizes three researchers for outstanding scientific achievement in neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular and cancer research. Rakic received the neuropsychiatric research award and Lifton the cardiovascular research award. This was the first time in the 14-year history of the awards that two recipients were from the same institution.

The researchers each received a $35,000 prize in recognition of their work at the foundation’s 14th Annual Medical and Scientific Award Dinner in Los Angeles, Calif., May 6. Previous awardees include Stanley Prusiner, Arvid Carlsson and Eric Kandel.

Rakic, the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor and chair of the Department of Neurobiology, was recognized for his critical discoveries on the interaction of nerve and glial cells as they develop in the brain.

“He and his colleagues provided the first evidence of gene related alterations in synaptic connections and pioneered the concept of pruning of nerves and their connections,” the presenters said. “His work has led to new insights in the organization of the human brain. It is leading to new conceptions of neuropsychiatric disorders such as mental retardation, schizophrenia, and autism as well as potentially to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”

Lifton, chair of the Department of Genetics, was recognized for his pioneering application of molecular genetic approaches to the study of hypertension.

“His work has provided fundamental new insight into blood pressure regulation that has revolutionized and reinvigorated this important clinical problem,” the presenters said. “His investigations of rare forms of severe hypertension have established that inherited variation in the handling of salt by the kidney alters blood pressure in humans. These studies have provided new insight into the causes of hypertension, new diagnostic tests for specific forms of this disease, and have identified targets for development of new treatments.”

The foundation was created in 1987 by the late Robert and Claire Pasarow of Beverly Hills, Calif., to stimulate medical and scientific research. Pasarow was the founder and former president, CEO, and chairman of the board of CHB Foods, Inc.

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