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Audrey S. Penn, M.D., Named NINDS Deputy Director


For release: Friday, March 1, 1996

BETHESDA, MD - Audrey S. Penn, M.D., one of the nation's leading neurologists and a well-known scientist specializing in neuromuscular disease research, has been named Deputy Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

"Audrey Penn brings to NINDS a wonderful combination of scientific excellence, clinical expertise, and administrative strength," said NINDS Director, Zach W. Hall, Ph.D. "Her leadership will be invaluable to the Institute as she continues her distinguished career at NIH."

A leading expert on neuroimmunology and neuromuscular disorders, Dr. Penn is especially well-known for her clinical expertise and accomplishments in research on myasthenia gravis, a rare disorder characterized by muscle weakness which affects 25,000 persons in the United States. She is active in the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation and played a major role in organizing an international conference on the disorder.

A native of New York City, Dr. Penn received her B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1956, her M.D. in 1960 from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and trained in neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. She was an NINDS special fellow for postgraduate training in the biochemistry of muscle proteins implicated in muscle diseases. This later evolved into work on the acetylcholine receptor, the target protein in myasthenia gravis.

As NINDS Deputy Director, Dr. Penn will work with the Director in program planning and allocating the Institute's budget of more than $670 million. NINDS basic and clinical neurological research programs include fundamental neurological sciences, stroke, and central nervous system trauma. The Institute also sponsors training programs for scientists pursuing biomedical research careers.

"My goal as Deputy Director is to foster research on neurological disorders and to help implement the mission of the NIH," said Dr. Penn. "I trust that I will be able to help neurologists and neuroscientists in their work toward better understanding of neurological conditions."

Before moving to Washington in December, Dr. Penn was Professor of Neurology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and practiced neurology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She is a former president of the American Neurological Association (ANA) and previously a Director of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. In addition to the ANA, her professional memberships include the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Harvey Society, and the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease. Her position as NINDS Deputy Director follows a term serving on the Institute's National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council.

The NINDS is the nation's principal supporter of research on the brain and nervous system. The Institute is also a lead agency for the congressionally designated Decade of the Brain.

Originally prepared by Marian Emr, NINDS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.

Last Modified August 7, 2009