Newswise — New Brunswick, NJ – The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded the 2012 Freedman Prize to Zhiping Pang, MD, PhD, in honor of his success in developing a novel way to study synaptic dysfunction of brain and behavior disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Dr. Pang, of New Providence, NJ, is an assistant professor of neuroscience and cell biology, and a researcher at the Child Health Institute of New Jersey at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The award was presented to Dr. Pang at a ceremony on Friday, July 27 in New York City.
“Dr. Pang is a truly outstanding scientist who is working to better understand how dysfunction in brain development may lead to neurological and behavioral disorders in children. We are very proud that he has been recognized with the 2012 Freedman Prize,” said Arnold B. Rabson, MD, director of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, Laura Gallagher Endowed Chair of Developmental Biology and professor of Pharmacology, Pediatrics, and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “The basic science research that Dr. Pang conducts will lead to a better understanding of brain and behavioral disorders, as well as improved therapies for diseases such as schizophrenia, and neurodevelopmental disorders including autism.”
Brain function relies on information flow from one neuron to another, a process that primarily takes place in specialized structures called synapses. Research has demonstrated that dysfunction in synaptic transmissions, which are tightly regulated by calcium ions, leads to mental disorders. According to Dr. Pang, researching this process is crucial to understanding how the brain works, as not only does a failure in the process lead to mental health disorders, but it also may be linked to disorders in feeding behavior that lead to obesity in humans.
Dr. Pang received medical training at the Fourth Military Medical University in Xi’an, China, and in 2007 earned his doctorate in neuroscience at The University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Pang completed his postdoctoral training at Stanford University before joining Robert Wood Johnson Medical School as a resident faculty member at the Child Health Institute of New Jersey in 2011.
In 2008 and 2011, Dr. Pang received the Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), now known as the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, which is dedicated to identifying the causes, improving treatments and developing prevention strategies for mental illnesses. The Freedman Prize was established in 1998 in memory of Daniel X. Freedman, MD, to recognize outstanding basic mental health research by a young investigator.
About UMDNJ-ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON MEDICAL SCHOOL As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. In cooperation with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school’s principal affiliate, they comprise one of the nation's premier academic medical centers. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.
As one of the eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with 2,800 full-time and volunteer faculty, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 22 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centers and institutes including The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students on its campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden, and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. To learn more about UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, log on to rwjms.umdnj.edu. Find us online at www.Facebook.com/RWJMS and www.twitter.com/UMDNJ_RWJMS.