UM Pathologist Wins Annual VA Research Award

Michael D. Norenberg, M.D., professor of pathology and biochemistry and molecular biology at the Miller School of Medicine and staff neuropathologist at the Miami VA Medical Center, has received the William S. Middleton Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Established 50 years ago, the Middleton Award is the highest honor presented annually by the Research and Development Office of the VA. It is given in recognition of outstanding scientific contribution and achievement in the areas of biomedical and bio-behavioral research related to the health care of veterans. Edward J. Weinman, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Maryland, is the co-recipient.

Dr. Norenberg has worked with the VA for nearly 40 years and with UM for 28 years. As a neuropathologist, he has focused much of his research on the brain and spinal cord. Specifically, Norenberg discovered that astrocytes, central nervous system (CNS) cells, play a critical role in normal functions of the CNS and are critically involved in neurological diseases. His work uncovered a link between severe liver disease and abnormal astrocytes which results in cell swelling and brain edema. That research has led to the discovery of various agents that diminish or block such swelling that can be effective in patients with severe liver disease and brain edema.

Dr. Norenberg has also been involved in the research of brain and spinal cord trauma, establishing mechanisms of traumatic brain edema. He also discovered the cause of central pontine myelinolysis (CPM), a debilitating disorder of the nervous system. As a result of his research, CPM has become a rare condition.

As the recipient of the Middleton Award, Norenberg will receive $50,000 per year for three years in additional research support.

Dr. Norenberg says he is “very honored to receive this award” and expresses his sincere gratitude for the unwavering support he has received over the years from numerous colleagues and associates, including Lawrence Fishman, M.D., professor emeritus of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Robert Jackson, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and associate chief of staff for research at the Miami VA Medical Center, and Gustavo Godoy, M.B.A., director of research in the International Medicine Institute.

Richard Cote, M.D., professor and chair of pathology, said the entire Department of Pathology is very proud of Dr. Norenberg for winning one of the nation’s highest awards for scientific work. “It’s a testament to the excellence of Dr. Norenberg’s body of research at the Miller School and the VA that has furthered research and benefited patients with neurological diseases nationwide.”

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