Dr. Valina Dawson joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1994. She has pioneered the discovery of neuronal survival and death signals, and has defined key signaling events relevant to Parkinson's disease (PD) in human dopaminergic cultures, cell cultures, and pre-clincial models. Her laboratory recently discovered a receptor for toxic alpha-synuclein, the sticky protein that is a hallmark of PD. Genetic deletion of this receptor prevents the spread of alpha-synuclein and neurodegeneration in a pre-clinical model of PD. Her team is currently investigating antibody (immune protein) therapy to block this receptor and reduce toxic alpha-synuclein spread, thus preventing dopaminergic neurodegeneration, to develop new therapies for the treatment of PD. Dr. Dawson is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Heart Association.