April 20, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 16


Of Note


Naski wins prestigious Beeson Award for aging studies


Why do 80 percent of people age 65 and older have osteoarthritis and how could it be treated or reversed? Those are questions that Dr. Michael Naski, pathology, hopes to answer with help from a prestigious new research award.

Dr. Naski has been selected by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) to receive a $450,000, three-year Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research Award.

Only 11 Beeson awards were made this year and Dr. Naski is the only recipient from Texas. He won for his proposal to study "Matrix Homeostasis and Gene Expression in Aging Cartilage."

The award is designed as a faculty development award for outstanding junior physician faculty committed to academic careers in aging-related research, teaching and practice. The program is sponsored by The John A. Hartford Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, the Alliance for Aging Research (on behalf of donor friends) and The Starr Foundation. Previous award winners from this campus include Drs. Jeanne Anderson, medicine, and Richard Lin, pharmacology.

Dr. Naski, who has been on the faculty as an assistant professor since July 1999, holds the M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Washington University in St. Louis. He has won several awards, including Young Investigator Awards from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and the International Society for Thrombosis and Homeostasis.

Mentors for Dr. Naski's project are Drs. Arlan Richardson, physiology, and Robert Reddick, pathology.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common articular disease of the elderly and incidence increases exponentially with age. "This striking association with age implies that aging fundamentally alters chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and these changes predispose cartilage to the pathologies of OA," Dr. Naski said.

Presently, there are no treatments that modify the course of OA. "To develop strategies for the treatment of OA, we must understand how chondrocytes are altered by aging," he said. Dr. Naski's studies will be directed toward this goal.