Fred H. Gage, a professor in the Laboratory for Genetics at the Salk Institute and the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases, is one of only three Americans elected an Associate Member to the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2009.
"The election once again puts a spotlight on the most outstanding representatives of the current generation of life scientists. We look forward to the fresh impulses this exceptional group will bring to our organization," said EMBO Director Hermann Bujard.
Gage's laboratory concentrates on the adult central nervous system and unexpected plasticity and adaptability to environmental stimulation that remains throughout the life of all mammals. He and his colleagues showed that, contrary to accepted dogma, human beings are capable of growing new nerve cells throughout life.
Small populations of immature nerve cells are found in the adult mammalian brain, which are generated in a process called neurogenesis. Gage is working to understand how these cells can be induced to become mature functioning nerve cells in the adult brain and spinal cord.
His lab also showed that environmental enrichment and physical exercise can enhance the growth of new brain cells and his team is studying the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms that may be harnessed to repair the aged and damaged brain and spinal cord.