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October 8, 2002


Emory Pharmacologist Wins Prestigious Keck Foundation Award

ATLANTA -- Randy A. Hall, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology in Emory University School of Medicine, has been named a 2002 Keck Distinguished Young Scholar in Medical Research. The award from the W.M. Keck Foundation includes a $1 million grant over five years to the School of Medicine in support of Dr. Hall's research on neurotransmitters and hormone receptors in the brain and cardiovascular systems.

The Keck Foundation invites 30 institutions each year to submit one candidate for the national Keck Distinguished Young Scholar competition. A total of five Keck Young Scholars Awards are given annually in the U.S. According to the Keck Foundation, the awards are designed to promote the early career development of "a select group of the country's brightest young biomedical scientists those with the promise to become our nation's research leaders." The program supports groundbreaking research that addresses the fundamental mechanisms of human disease.

The award winners must exhibit "extraordinary promise for independent basic biological and medical research and a capacity for future academic leadership." The foundation's goal is to provide young scientists with an opportunity to investigate promising new ideas in the fundamental mechanisms of disease at a time when they often engage in some of their most innovative work.

In the cardiovascular system, Dr. Hall studies the ways in which hormones such as adrenaline bind to cells in order to regulate cardiovascular function, and also studies the mechanisms of action of drugs such as beta blockers, which block adrenaline and prevent the heart muscle from becoming overexcited. In the brain, Dr. Hall's lab is the mechanisms of action of neurotransmitters such as GABA and glutamate, which are involved in the development of schizophrenia, epilepsy and anxiety.

"Through a better understanding of the ways that cells communicate in the brain and cardiovascular system, we can gain insights that lay the foundation for the development of new drugs of the future in treating disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety, stroke, and heart disease," Dr. Hall says. "The Keck awards are significant because they allow young scientists like myself to establish their own independent research programs and to work on new and exciting ideas. These awards can make a tremendous difference early in a scientist's career."

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