Palm Beach County is a hotbed for scientific breakthroughs. Here’s a look at what’s being discovered in some of South Florida’s leading research institutes.
Florida Atlantic University (561-297-0777) is taking steps toward treating certain crippling neurological impairments. The university has joined forces with Eco Neurologics Inc., a start-up company headquartered on campus, to develop drugs to treat epilepsy, migraines and stroke. Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully (below), an assistant professor in biological studies, received a $353,000 grant towards the research and will act as the lead scientific consultant.
In 2014, the Obama administration will roll out a $100 million research initiative to develop a comprehensive map of the brain’s activity. The project, titled Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, has earned the support of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (561-972-9000), which already employs nine research groups focused on unearthing the mysteries of the brain. In a statement, Dr. David Fitzpatrick (left), the scientific director and CEO of the Jupiter institute, aligned his organization’s work with the BRAIN project: “Our mission focuses on the development and implementation of new technologies that allow us to visualize the structure, function and development of the neural circuits. These research efforts are exactly what the BRAIN initiative aims to achieve.”
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute (561-228-2000) in Jupiter are making headlines for their research in anti-addiction medication. Using a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Paul Kenny is overseeing a study to develop drugs that will help people break their addiction to nicotine. For help developing the drug, the scientists are consulting with a panel of industry experts; the working relationships could eventually lead to a marketable medication.
Though far less common than the scourge of tobacco, diseases caused by misfolded proteins called prions are terrifying ailments, resulting in symptoms such as dementia, personality shifts and hallucinations. A group of Scripps scientists, led by Dr. Corinne Lasmézas (right), has identified a pair of drugs that show promise in the treatment of prion disorders. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study focused on the drugs tacrolimus and astemizole, which are already approved for human use for other purposes.