How Neuroimmunology Develops New Strategies Against Brain Ageing and Degeneration
Michal Schwartz’ studies revolutionized the current understanding of degenerative conditions of the central nervous system. Her theory broke the long-held dogma that immune cell entry to the brain should be completely blocked by a cellular wall, and shattered the understanding of the barrier that exists between the brain and the immune system, by attributing to the immune system a fundamental role throughout life in supporting brain plasticity – with far-reaching clinical implications for behavior, cognition, stress, neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases. As a result of her work, current research efforts are no longer directed at blocking immune interactions with the brain, but at investigating how to harness the immune response in the most effective manner to slow down brain aging, improve cognition, and fight disease. Professor Schwartz has received numerous prestigious awards for her research, including the Friedenwald Award from ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology), and the American Spinal Cord Injury Association’s Distinguished Heiner Sell Memorial Lectureship and the NARSAD (National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders) Distinguished Investigator Award. Additionally, Schwartz was selected as one of the Career Women of the Year 2000 in Israel, and in 2006 as one of the top ten “Women to Watch”. At Falling Walls, Schwartz will describe the latest progress in developing her theory of “protective autoimmunity” in service of the mind, which has inspired the search for new therapeutic strategies to fight ageing, and acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases.