An outstanding scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Prof Mingjie Zhang, was conferred the 2006 National Natural Science Award in recognition of his breakthrough research that would help the development of treatment for stroke, for which there is currently no cure.
Prof Zhang, of the Department of Biochemistry, received the prestigious award in Beijing today (Tuesday) for his contributions to elucidating the molecular mechanisms for a series of protein complexes that play signaling roles in neurons.
"Currently, there is no cure for stroke. We believe that what we are doing will provide very important scientific findings for the development of potential stroke treatment, at least to alleviate but potentially to cure or reverse stroke," Prof Zhang added.
Prof Zhang's research results have been published in prestigious journals including Science , Nature Structural Biology , Nature Structural and Molecular Biology , and Proceedings of National Academy of Science USA.
The National Natural Award is China's most prestigious award for basic research in natural science. The award certificates were presented by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiaobao to the representatives of recipients at a gala event held in Beijing on 27 February 2007.
Thanks to Prof Zhang's basic research, the stroke victims may eventually benefit from the findings of how proteins work in the brain.
"Signaling in the brain is mediated by a diversity of neurotransmitters. Binding to these neurotransmitters are receptors and ion-channels that are organized into multi-protein complexes by 'scaffold' proteins." Prof Zhang explained.
Prof Zhang's research unlocks the structural and biochemical basis of how scaffold proteins organize brain cell signaling complexes. He believes the research is important not only for understanding the signaling process in brain cells but could help provide leads for the development of drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke.
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