Journal Honors Pathologist Dr. Michael D. Norenberg with Dedicated Issue

The academic journal Neurochemical Research has bestowed a rare honor upon Miller School of Medicine physician-scientist Michael D. Norenberg, M.D., professor of pathology, biochemistry and molecular biology, neurology and neurological surgery, and a member of the staff of the Miami VA Medical Center, by dedicating its February issue to his contributions to the fields of neuroscience and neuropathology.

In their introduction to the special issue, guest editors Arne Schousboe, D.Sc., professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen, and Jan Albrecht, Ph.D., professor of neurotoxicology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, said that Norenberg’s “thorough analytical attitude to the microscopy of brain tissue, combined with intuitive feeling for the biology of the central nervous system, have led to breakthrough observations regarding the role of astrocytes in the normal and pathological brain.”

The guest editors also cited Norenberg’s receipt of the 2010 William S. Middleton Award — the highest research honor given by the Department of Veterans Affairs — and his election to the American Association of Physicians in 2012 as recognition of a career marked by “pursuit of medical knowledge, and its advancement through experimentation and discovery of basic and clinical science and their application to clinical medicine.”

“Mike has made seminal contributions to our understanding of the brain and brain pathology,” said Richard J. Cote, M.D., professor and Joseph R. Coulter Jr. Chair of the Department of Pathology, and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “He was one of the first to show that astrocytes play crucial roles in brain function, and are not merely scaffold cells, as had been previously thought.

“His work on hepatic encephalopathy — a serious neurological condition that results from liver failure — has basically defined our understanding of this debilitating and prevalent condition. Mike is also particularly proud of uncovering the cause of central pontine myelinolysis (CPM), a devastating demyelinating disorder, usually occurring in chronically ill individuals, and often with prolonged periods of hospitalizations. He and his colleagues found that CPM is caused by an overly rapid correction of hyponatremia. As such, CPM is currently an extremely rare condition. Mike has received numerous awards for his work, but having an entire journal dedicated to him is a rare and very appropriate honor.”

Norenberg described himself as “totally surprised, shocked and humbled” by the honor. He said, “Research can be a difficult, grueling and a sometimes thankless task, often colored by disappointments and frustrations, but it is also associated with great joy when useful knowledge is generated, and your achievements are recognized and appreciated by your peers and colleagues.”

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