USF Health neuroscientist featured speaker at Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Paul Sanberg, PhD, DSc

Paul Sanberg, PhD, DSc, Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at USF Health, was a featured speaker Sept. 19 at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons 2007 Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. The prestigious meeting is attended by thousands of surgeons from across the world.

“The Congress represents U.S. and many foreign neurosurgeons. The organization’s selection of Dr. Sanberg to give an update on stem cell research in the United States speaks to the premier status of Dr. Sanberg and his team at the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair,” said Harry van Loveren, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, where the center is based. “The Center’s work brings worldwide distinction to the University of South Florida.”

Dr. Sanberg was on the roster with such speakers as novelist Salman Rushdie, who was condemned to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini after publishing Satanic Verses; astronomist Steve Squires, PhD, who works on NASA’s Mars Rover mission; and Robert Sapolsky, PhD, the Stanford University neuroendocrinologist who has lived with and studied baboons in Africa.

He delivered a special lecture, titled “Navigating Cellular Repair for the Nervous System,” in which he spoke about the tremendous potential of regenerative medicine. “If stem cell therapy using neurosurgical approaches is FDA approved and becomes commercially viable for any of the big three neurodegenerative diseases – Parkinson’s, stroke or Alzheimer’s – there may not be enough neurosurgeons to handle the demand,” he said.

Currently clinical trials testing stems cells for brain repair are being conducted in patients outside the United States; studies in this country continue to progress in animal models.

Dr. Sanberg directs a pre-eminent USF research center that is developing new therapeutic strategies — including therapies derived from adult stem cells and human umbilical cord blood — to promote repair and regeneration of the aging and diseased brain. His early work was pioneering in understanding the role of cell death in neurological disorders.

Dr. Sanberg is an inventor on several patents involving the use of nonembryonic stem cells for brain and spinal cord injury. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Cell Transplantation, executive director of the American Society for Neural Transplantation and Repair, and past president of the Cell Transplant Society.

– Story by Anne DeLotto Baier