Dr. Tan appointed to $2-million Silver Chair in Developmental Neurobiology

Jun Tan, MD, PhD

Tampa, FL (Sept. 25, 2007) – University of South Florida neuroscientist Jun Tan, MD, PhD, has been appointed to the $2-million Robert A. Silver Chair in Developmental Neurobiology. The endowment will support the work of Dr. Tan, associate professor in the Silver Child Development Center, Department of Psychiatry, as he broadens his current research in neuropsychiatry to discovering how brain development affects the behavior of infants, children and adolescents.

Archie A. Silver, MD, professor emeritus of psychiatry, and his wife Mary Louise established the endowment in 1997 to honor their son, Robert A. Silver.

“The Department of Psychiatry owes an infinite debt of gratitude to Dr. Tan for his pioneering work in the field of neuroimmunology, which will now be extended to improve the lives of millions of children with mental disorders,” said Francisco Fernandez, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry. “Dr. Tan’s work has spawned revolutionary advances in immunopathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders. This is a particularly exciting for all of us as USF has chosen an outstanding scientist who is a local hero.”

“The selection of Dr. Tan to serve as the Robert A. Silver Chair in Developmental Neurobiology is a strong reflection of the institutional commitment to create a program in this discipline at USF Health,” said Abdul S. Rao, MD, MA, DPhil, professor of surgery and molecular medicine and senior associate vice president, USF Health. “Dr. Tan will play a critical role in helping further develop a program in Developmental Neurobiology that will complement the efforts underway in basic, translational and clinical research in the Interdisciplinary Signature Program in Neurosciences.”

Dr. Tan served as scientific director of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory in the USF Institute for Research in Psychiatry since 2003. He is a leader in developing novel treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders such as HIV dementia. Recently, his team received national attention for their work showing that a transdermal vaccine (such as a skin patch) may be a promising noninvasive therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. Using a new mouse model for HIV-related dementia, Dr Tan and colleagues found that a green tea extract protects the brain against the neurotoxicity of proteins secreted by the AIDS virus.

He is a principal investigator or co-principal investigator for $2.3 million in federal research projects funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging. He holds several patents for potential treatments for neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Tan will bring his expertise in immunity and inflammation in the adult brain to bear on disorders of brain development affecting children. He was first to characterize an immune molecule on the surface of nerve cells, or neurons, called CD40. Recent results from ongoing studies suggest this molecule could play an important role in the creation of neurons and their differentiation in the developing fetus. These and other findings may lead to a better understanding of the abnormal physiology underlying childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette’s syndrome, and hopefully result in new treatments.

- USF Health -

USF Health is dedicated to creating a model of health care based on understanding the full spectrum of health. It includes the University of South Florida’s colleges of medicine, nursing, and public health; the schools of biomedical sciences as well as physical therapy & rehabilitation sciences; and the USF Physicians Group. With $310 million in research funding last year, USF is one of the nation’s top 63 public research universities and one of Florida’s top three research universities.