David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor and director of the Neurofibromatosis (NF) Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, Germany’s highest academic award for researchers outside the country, and has been named an Einstein Visiting Fellow by the Berlin Institute of Health.
While continuing to lead his laboratory and the NF Center at the School of Medicine, Gutmann also will travel regularly to Germany to work with Helmut Kettenmann, PhD, at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin.
Gutmann and Kettenmann will co-lead a team investigating the relationship between a type of brain cell, known as microglia, and neurological diseases, including brain tumors and autism. For these studies, they will leverage Kettenmann’s expertise in microglia and Gutmann’s clinical and research experience with the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) genetic disorder. Although the German awards are designed to bring international expertise to Germany, Gutmann expects the collaboration will expand the overall understanding of brain tumors and autism in NF1, providing new insight into the causes of these common problems in the general population.
“What we’re going to learn and bring back to Washington University in terms of approaches, technologies and general knowledge will move us closer to understanding and treating neurofibromatosis,” Gutmann said.