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Dr. Gareth Howell Receives Shaffer Prize for Innovative Research

Dr. Gareth Howell (left) received the Shaffer Prize from Thomas Brunner
Dr. Gareth Howell (left) received the Shaffer Prize from Thomas Brunner

Gareth Howell, PhD (The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine) was awarded the 2013 Shaffer Prize for Innovative Glaucoma Research for his study investigating the mechanism by which a spontaneous mutation prevents retinal ganglion cell death in glaucoma.

He received the award from Thomas M. Brunner, President and CEO of the Glaucoma Research Foundation, at the annual Catalyst for a Cure Benefit Gala at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco,

The Shaffer Prize, presented annually by the Glaucoma Research Foundation, recognizes the researcher whose project best exemplifies the pursuit of innovative ideas in the quest to better understand glaucoma. Dr. Howell’s prize-winning project “Understanding the Mechanisms of Wlds-mediated Protection in Glaucoma” was chosen by GRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee comprised of an esteemed group of experts in the field of glaucoma.

Gareth Howell, PhD received his Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Manchester, UK. He went on to join The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK where he studied for his PhD in comparative genomics and bioinformatics. In 2003 Howell joined the laboratory of Dr. John Schimenti, at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, as a postdoctoral associate gaining hands-on experience using mice to study genes contributing to developmental disease. He then returned to the UK, taking a second postdoctoral position at The University of Sheffield, UK, to train with Dr. Stuart Wilson and Dr. Marysia Plazcek in powerful new methods for gene-silencing.

Dr. Howell returned to The Jackson Laboratory as an Associate Research Scientist in October 2005 working closely with Simon John to understand the neurobiology of glaucoma and to develop clinically relevant neuroprotective treatments. He is using his bioinformatics and other experience in a large-scale study of optic nerve genes that change in response to IOP. He is discovering genes that are involved in the earliest stages of glaucomatous neurodegeneration and his comprehensive study is also uncovering important factors that will help in the development of novel neuroprotective therapies.

He is now an assistant professor at Jackson Laboratory and is broadening his interest to study early stages of other age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Last reviewed on March 22, 2013

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