New members selected for National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council

New members selected for National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Six esteemed individuals have been selected to serve on the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council, the principal advisory body to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The council meets three times each year to review grant applications and advise NINDS leadership on activities and policies affecting scientific programs. Members include scientists, physicians, and public representatives.

“I look forward to working with the new council members. They will bring diverse experiences and perspectives to council that will help advance the institute’s scientific goals,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., director of NINDS.

Brief biographies of the new council members are below.

Christopher Bever, Jr., M.D., is a professor in the departments of Neurology and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. He is also the director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, East, and Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development at the Baltimore VA Maryland Health Care System. Dr. Bever earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester, New York. He is a member of the American Neurological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Neurology. His research focuses on developing therapies to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In addition, he is working with colleagues to develop robots to help with rehabilitation for neurological conditions.

Gord Fishell, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of the New York University (NYU) Neuroscience Institute and the Julius Raines Professor of Neuroscience and Physiology at NYU. Dr. Fishell earned his doctoral degree in neurobiology from the University of Toronto. He is a Simons Investigator and has served on numerous editorial boards including the Journal of Neuroscience, Genes and Development, and Developmental Neuroscience. The focus of Dr. Fishell’s research is development, including ways in which specialized brain cells called interneurons contribute to differences across various brain regions and the genes involved in those processes.

David H. Gutmann, M.D., Ph.D., is the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor in the Department of Neurology, and the director of the Neurofibromatosis Center at Washington University, St. Louis. He earned a doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology as well as a medical degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Gutmann and his team have developed numerous mouse models of neurofibromatosis to define the cellular origins of tumors, the contribution of the tumor microenvironment, and the major growth control pathways that dictate brain development. He has been recognized for his achievements with numerous awards, including the 2012 Children’s Tumor Foundation Frederich von Recklinghausen Award, the 2013 Washington University Distinguished Faculty Research Award, and the 2014 Riley Church Lectureship.

Janet L. Hieshetter has been the executive director of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) since 2004. The organization that provides funding for dystonia research and works to collaborate with other patient advocacy organizations to provide resources for the scientific community. Prior to her work with the DMRF, Ms. Hieshetter served as development director for Trilogy, Inc., Chicago, a mental health organization. She also served as Senior Director of Education for the National Osteoporosis Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, and Director of Field Services at the Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago. Ms. Hieshetter is currently chairperson of the board of directors of the American Brain Coalition, co-chair of the Coalition of Patient Advocacy Groups of the Office of Rare Disease Research, and a member of the executive committee of the Dystonia Coalition.

Bruce Ovbiagele, M.D., is the Admiral Paul E. Pihl Endowed Professor of Neuroscience, chairman of neurology, and professor of public health sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston. He earned his medical degree from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and Master of Science in Clinical Research degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2008, Dr. Ovbiagele was the recipient of the American Academy of Neurology Pessin Stroke Research Leadership award. Dr. Ovbiagele is an elected fellow of the American Neurological Association, American Heart Association Stroke Council, American Academy of Neurology, and Royal College of Physicians (London). His primary research focus is the development and implementation of evidence-based behavioral interventions to improve outcomes for people with, or at risk for, stroke.

Steven Perrin, Ph.D., is the chief executive officer and chief scientific officer at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He earned his doctoral degree in biochemistry from Boston University Medical Center. Dr. Perrin moved into the pharmaceutical industry in 1997, holding positions at the Hoechst-Ariad Genomics Center, Aventis Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge and served as the Director of Molecular Profiling at Biogen Idec in Cambridge. He joined ALS TDI in 2007 as part of an historical collaboration between the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Augie's Quest and ALS TDI with the goal of developing a center ofexcellence for ALS drug development and translational research for neurodegenerative diseases. Under Dr. Perrin’s leadership, ALS TDI has assembled a scientific team that has brought two potential treatments into clinical development for ALS in the last seven years.


The NINDS ( is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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