Conrad Chris Weihl, MD, PhD, has received the 2017 Derek Denny-Brown Young Neurological Scholar Award in Basic Science, the most prestigious honor awarded by the American Neurological Association. The award recognizes early- and mid-career neurologists and neuroscientists who have made outstanding basic or clinical scientific advances toward the prevention, diagnosis, treatment or cure of neurological diseases.
Weihl, an associate professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, studies how a cell’s failure to maintain quality control over its proteins – and, especially, to dispose of or reshape deformed and clumped proteins – can lead to degenerative diseases. He studies a group of rare genetic diseases that causes muscle weakness, bone breakdown and dementia, and has linked these disease’s diverse signs and symptoms to an inability to properly identify and destroy malformed proteins.
His research also supports the idea that snags in the cell’s protein waste-disposal system may contribute not only to normal aging but also to a range of neurodegenerative diseases including Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.