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Robert Friedlander, MD, MA

Robert Friedlander, MD, MA

Director, The Neuroapoptosis Laboratory
Research Director, Department of Neurosurgery
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Associate Director of Cerebrovascular Surgery
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Professor of Surgery
Harvard Medical School

The focus of the Friedlander laboratory is the study of the basic mechanisms of neuronal apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. The better we understand what are the causes mediating neuronal cell death, the better we would be able to develop means to prevent it. It is of great interest that in most neurologic diseases featuring neuronal cell death, the mechanisms mediating this process is the same. A family of proteins called Caspases, is abnormally activated and kills the cells. Therefore, if we can inhibit the abnormal activation of these caspases we should be able to prevent the death of brain and spinal cord neurons.

Caspases are activated in a broad number of neurologic diseases. The diseases we are studying include Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brian Injury, Huntington’s disease, and ALS (a.k.a Lou Gehrig’s disease). We have identified a number of drugs, which block a critical step which triggers caspase-mediated cell death, and block cell death in models of these diseases. Some of these efforts have translated into human clinical trials. Our goal is therefore to advance the understanding of the causes of cell death, and to develop effective treatments for these devastating and often untreatable diseases.