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University of Iowa News Release


May 4, 2009


Campbell receives March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology

University of Iowa professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator Kevin Campbell, Ph.D., and Harvard Medical School professor and HHMI investigator Louis Kunkel, Ph.D., are co-recipients of the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology for identifying genetic and molecular causes of muscular dystrophies, a group of disorders in which muscles progressively degenerate.

Considered a highly prestigious award for basic science, the March of Dimes prize includes a cash award of $250,000, shared by the recipients, and a silver medal in the design of the Roosevelt dime, in honor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who founded the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes created the prize as a tribute to Dr. Jonas Salk, shortly before his death in 1995, to recognize scientific research related to birth defects. The award was presented to Campbell and Kunkel May 3 at a dinner and ceremony in Baltimore.

Through independent pioneering genetic research projects, Campbell and Kunkel have explained the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of muscular dystrophies. The results of their work have improved diagnosis of these conditions, suggested new approaches for developing therapies and led to clinical trials testing potential treatments.

"This is a tremendous recognition of Dr. Campbell's research career and of his major contributions to medical science. We are thrilled for him personally and extremely proud that he has been part of the UI Carver College of Medicine for almost his entire career," said Jean Robillard, M.D., vice president for medical affairs. "Kevin's passion for understanding the molecular basis of muscle disease has led to improved understanding of many muscular dystrophies and has opened up new lines of research that could lead to therapies for these devastating conditions."

Campbell, who holds the Roy J. Carver Chair of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, is professor and head of molecular physiology and biophysics at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. He also is a professor of neurology and internal medicine and is director of the Sen. Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center at the UI.

"Kevin's work exemplifies the value and importance of basic science as a way to derive knowledge that can be used to advance clinical care. This is a great and well-deserved honor," said Paul Rothman, M.D., dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine.

Campbell is internationally known for his muscular dystrophy research. An early interest in muscle physiology led him to study muscular dystrophy and discover the molecular basis of several forms of the disease. These discoveries have helped improve the diagnosis of muscular dystrophy and are laying the groundwork for therapeutic strategies to treat muscular dystrophies and other muscle diseases.

An important early finding from Campbell's lab was the discovery of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex, a multi-protein complex that helps maintain healthy muscle membranes during muscle contraction and relaxation. His lab has subsequently shown that genetic mutations that affect the complex, both directly and indirectly, can cause muscular dystrophies, including forms of the disease that cause neurological abnormalities and heart damage.

Campbell has received numerous other awards and honors for his research, including a Scientific Achievement Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Amgen Award, the Duchenne-Erb-Preis Award and the G. Conte Prize for Basic Research. He also is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

PHOTOS: A high-resolution photo of Campbell is available from Jennifer Brown,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-335-9917,