Mount Sinai Researcher Receives Career-Starter Research Grant for 2012-2013

Hirofumi Morishita, MD, PhD, receives a Career-Starter Research Grant for 2012-2013 from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

New York
 – June 20, 2012 /Press Release/  –– 

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researcher Hirofumi Morishita, MD, PhD, has received a Career-Starter Research Grant for 2012-2013 from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

Dr. Morishita, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Ophthalmology, Friedman Brain Institute and the Child Health and Development Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, was awarded the grant for his work entitled, "Molecular and Circuit Based Therapeutic Strategy for Amblyopia." The grant of $60,000 was given to Dr. Morishita on June 2.

"Our long-term goal is to identify key regulatory mechanisms of plasticity to provide therapeutic targets for Amblyopia," said Dr. Morishita. "We recently identified a novel 'molecular brake' called Lynx1 which increases in adulthood to actively limit plasticity in mouse visual cortex. The removal of this brake was sufficient to restore visual function of ambyopic animals, implying that the adult brain may have hidden mechanisms of plasticity."

A 'lazy eye' or monocular cataract early in life results in an enduring loss of visual acuity (amblyopia) reflecting aberrant circuit remodeling within the primary visual cortex. Amblyopia affects two to four percent of the human population and exhibits little recovery in adulthood. Successful therapies for Amblyopia are therefore contingent on understanding the mechanism of adult brain plasticity.

The objective of the study is to uncover molecular and circuit mechanisms of the adult plasticity normally masked by this molecular brake. The identified mechanisms will provide novel targets for multiple interventions in amblyopia.

Dr. Morishita received his PhD from Osaka University after Psychiatry residency at National Center Hospital of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo and medical school training at Kyushu University. Before joining Mount Sinai, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Takao Hensch lab, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School. His postdoctoral work led to the preclinical discovery of therapeutic strategies for functional recovery in adulthood.

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation supports research that can help launch the careers of clinical or basic researchers committed to the prevention and cure of potentially blinding diseases in infants and children. They support clinical or basic research on conditions that can or may eventually be treated or prevented.

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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 & 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 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 16th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation's top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Of the top 20 hospitals in the United States, Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and 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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