Noted brain researcher Santosh D’Mello joins SMU as Biological Sciences chair

Santosh D’Mello

Santosh D’Mello, a respected scientist whose research is centered on understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating neurodegeneration, has joined SMU as professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, effective Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

D’Mello comes to SMU from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he was a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. He is a longtime partner in research with SMU Professor of Chemistry Edward Biehl.

In December 2010, D’Mello and Biehl published in The Journal of Neuroscience Research their discovery of a family of small molecules that shows promise in protecting brain cells against nerve-degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.

“Professor D’Mello brings broad experience and an excellent record as a researcher and teacher to SMU,” said Dedman College Dean Bill Tsutsui.  “His focus on building meaningful collaborations and his ambitious vision for the future of the Department of Biological Sciences impressed all of us on campus.”

D’Mello received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989 and joined the faculty at UTD in 1998. Funding for his research has included support from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the Whitehall Foundation.

“Neurodegenerative diseases, which include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and Huntington’s disease, are characterized by the slow but relentless loss of brain cells,” D’Mello said.  “There are no effective drugs or other therapeutic approaches to treat or prevent these progressive and fatal diseases. The goal of my lab is to understand neurodegeneration at the molecular level so that effective therapies can be developed.”

D’Mello said he was drawn to SMU because of the University’s strengths in several areas of the arts, humanities, and sciences. “I was particularly attracted by the collegial and talented faculty in the biology department, their keen interest in solving important biological problems, and their strong commitment to the teaching and training of students,” D’Mello said.

“I am honored to be named Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and am very excited about the opportunity,” D’Mello said.  “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students to build a strong multidisciplinary and collaborative research department with cutting-edge research performed by bright, talented, and motivated undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.”

Written by Kimberly Cobb

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