Mount Sinai Researcher Receives Prestigious National Institutes of Health Award

Anne Schaefer, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, has been recognized with the Director's New Innovator Award.

New York, NY
 – September 13, 2012 /Press Release/  –– 

Anne Schaefer, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, and Psychiatry, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has been recognized with the highly celebrated 2012 Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Schaefer is among 51 recipients of the award nationwide.

Dr. Schaefer, who is also a Seaver Fellow, a NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee, and named Chrissy Rossi Investigator in The Friedman Brain Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, will receive $1.5 million over the course of five years to study how epigenetic mechanisms contribute to maintenance of specialized neuronal functions and their alteration during psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Epigenetics determines which genes are expressed in cells and how modifications to gene expression can be passed on to future generations.

The NIH Director's New Innovator Award is designed to support  investigators at the early stages of their careers with highly innovative research ideas that may lack the preliminary data required for an NIH Research Project Grant. The award emphasizes the investigator's creativity, the originality of the research approaches, and the potential of the project, if successful, to have a significant impact on an important biomedical or behavioral research problem.

"It's an honor to receive the NIH Director's New Innovator Award," said Dr. Schaefer, "It will provide essential support for my nascent research group and increases the visibility of my research program, and may help me to recruit outstanding students and postdocs. It also indicates that my research program is well in tune with the highly competitive and innovative program of The Friedman Brain Institute."

Dr. Schaefer's research program will focus on a poorly understood aspect of "social" interaction between neurons and microglia in the brain. She will investigate how highly specialized and phenotypically diverse neurons in the brain could be surveyed by seemingly homogenous microglia cells. Dr. Schaefer's speculation is that microglia cells are actually highly heterogenous and that this heterogeneity reflects the ability of microglia to adapt to a specific neuronal micro-environment. Her research will investigate how this adaption works and what the merits of it are for mental health. 

"It is very reassuring to be awarded for a hypothesis-driven proposal, but what counts at the end are data and discoveries," said Dr. Schaefer. "I plan to work very hard to justify this support."    

Dr. Schaefer did her graduate studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Charité University Berlin and The Rockefeller University in New York. In the fall of 2004, she joined the lab of Paul Greengard, PhD, Nobel laureate and the Vincent Astor Professor, Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University, where she completed her postdoctoral studies and was promoted to Research Associate and Senior Research Associate. She joined The Friedman Brain Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine to start her own laboratory in 2011.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News and World Report.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 14th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation's top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and by  U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll.  Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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