UT Dallas Biologist Awarded $1.5-Million NIH Grant

Dr. Santosh D'Mello Will Study Compounds That
Could Be Used to Treat Neurodegenerative Diseases

RICHARDSON, Texas (July 14, 2004) — Dr. Santosh D’Mello, an associate professor in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has been awarded a $1.5-million grant by the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, an arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to study chemical compounds that could be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases.


Dr. Santosh D'Mello

The award, which covers a five-year period, will allow D’Mello and his team of researchers to study a novel class of chemical compounds that has been found to protect against neurodegeneration when tested on cultured brain cells and on mice.

Ultimately, D’Mello and his group hope to understand exactly how these drugs act to prevent degeneration within brain cells. The compounds could be useful in the treatment of such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and stroke, among others.

Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of individuals annually at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. Although there are drugs to reduce the symptoms associated with some human neurodegenerative conditions, there currently are none that can treat the underlying cause, which is the premature and abnormal death of brain cells. 

“The magnitude of the medical and socioeconomic burdens as a result of these diseases will increase greatly as the proportion of the elderly increases in the U. S.,” D’Mello said. “I am honored to receive this grant from the NIH, and I hope my research will help to lead to the development of drugs that could save people from debilitating neurodegenerative diseases.”

D’Mello joined UTD in 1998. He has a joint appointment in the School of Behavioral and Brain and Sciences and is the co-head of Diseases of the Aging Brain, which is a focus group in UTD’s Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology.

This is the third grant awarded to D’Mello since he arrived at UTD. In 1999, he was awarded a $935,000 grant from the Department of Defense to study how neurotoxins kill brain cells. In 2002, D’Mello received a $1-million grant from the NIH to study the mechanisms that regulate the survival of brain cells.

Prior to joining UTD, D’Mello was a faculty member in the physiology and neurobiology department at the University of Connecticut. He earned a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Pittsburgh and was a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University Medical Center and the Institute of Neurobiology in Rome, Italy.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 13,700 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.