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Funding News - New NINDS Director, Story C. Landis, Ph.D.

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Dr. Story C. Landis recently became director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Landis, who previously served as the scientific director of the NINDS intramural program, began her appointment on September 1, 2003.

    “Dr. Landis is widely recognized for her research on the development of the nervous system and has already encouraged close ties among the NIH neuroscience community,” said NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni. “She is a distinguished scientist and a skilled manager who will be an ideal leader for the NINDS’ growing translational research program.”

    As the new NINDS director, Dr. Landis will oversee an annual budget of $1.5 billion and a staff of more than 900 scientists, physician-scientists, and administrators. The Institute supports research by investigators in public and private institutions across the country, as well as by scientists working in its intramural laboratories and branches in Bethesda, Maryland. Since 1950, the Institute has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts in brain research, with studies in areas ranging from the structure and function of single brain cells to research on the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of neurological disorders to, most recently, the translational research that is helping bridge the gap.

    “I am delighted to have been chosen to lead an NIH Institute with an outstanding staff, whose investigators have a wonderful history of accomplishments in basic and clinical neurology,” said Dr. Landis. “This is a particularly exciting time in neuroscience with many opportunities for rapid translation of scientific discovery into new diagnostics and therapeutics. I look forward to developing strong collaborations between the NINDS, the other NIH institutes that fund neuroscience research, and our most important partners, patient and professional advocacy groups.”

    Dr. Landis joined the NINDS in 1995 as scientific director and worked with then-Institute Director Zach W. Hall, Ph.D., to coordinate and re-engineer the Institute’s intramural research programs. Between 1999 and 2000, under the leadership of NINDS Director Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D., she led the movement, together with NIMH Scientific Director Robert Desimone, Ph.D., to bring some sense of unity and common purpose to 200 laboratories from eleven different NIH Institutes, all of which conduct leading edge clinical and basic neuroscience research.

    A native of New England, Dr. Landis received her undergraduate degree in biology from Wellesley College in 1967, and her master’s degree (1970) and her Ph.D. (1973) from Harvard University where she conducted research on cerebellar development in mice. After postdoctoral work at Harvard University studying transmitter plasticity in sympathetic neurons, she served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School Department of Neurobiology.

    In 1985 she joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, where she held many academic positions including associate professor of Pharmacology, professor and director of the Center on Neurosciences, and chairman of the Department of Neurosciences-a department she was instrumental in establishing. Under her leadership, Case Western's neuroscience department achieved worldwide acclaim and a reputation for excellence.

    Throughout her research career, Dr. Landis has made many fundamental contributions to the understanding of developmental interactions required for synapse formation. She has garnered many honors and awards and is an elected fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Neurological Association. In 2002, she was named the president-elect of the Society for Neuroscience.