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Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD

Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD

Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, is recognized internationally for his important work elucidating the genetic and physiologic foundations of neuromuscular diseases.

As a graduate student in the lab of Jeffrey D. Milbrandt, MD, PhD, Baloh performed groundbreaking work cloning and characterizing receptors for a new class of neurotrophic factors important in nervous system development. As a Washington University faculty member, in collaboration with colleague Nigel J. Cairns, PhD, Baloh discovered a mutation in the gene TDP-43 that causes a rare familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Baloh was first co-author on the paper reporting these findings — the most cited paper the last three years in Annals of Neurology. Baloh also created the first successful mouse model of TDP-43-related ALS, a critical tool for understanding the underlying cause of the disease and developing new treatments. In addition, he was the first to show that gene mutations related to the protein mitofusin-2 cause a form of peripheral neuropathy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease by disturbing mitochondrial transport.

Although only having joined the faculty three years ago, Baloh is already widely recognized as an outstanding mentor to graduate students and fellow faculty members. One of Baloh’s graduate students already has defended his PhD thesis, and another will do so in six to 12 months. His honors include the S. Weir Mitchell Award from the American Academy of Neurology and the David M. Kipnis Award for outstanding research accomplishments from Washington University School of Medicine.

Baloh received his undergraduate degree from Brown University in 1995 and his medical and doctoral degrees from Washington University in 2001. He then continued his training with a neurology residency at Harvard Medical School and returned for a neuromuscular disease fellowship at Washington University before joining the faculty in 2007.

Published: 01/14/2011