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Christiana Ruhrberg

2018 NAVBO Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology -
Christiana Ruhrberg, University College of London


The NAVBO Meritorious Awards Committee, the Scientific Advisory Board, and the NAVBO Council announce with pleasure the selection of Christiana Ruhrberg, Ph.D., as the recipient of the 2018 Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology. This award recognizes outstanding contributions from vascular biologists who are at mid-career (within fifteen years of their first faculty appointment). Dr. Ruhrberg will present the Folkman Award Lecture and receive the award at Vascular Biology 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island (October 17, 2018).

Dr. Ruhrberg completed BSc/MSc studies in Cell Biology at Justus Liebig University in Germany and received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Imperial College London in 1997 under the direction of Fiona Watt at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. She was named Young Cell Biologist of the Year 1996 by the British Society for Cell Biology for her work on proteins that promote epidermal barrier function. She pursued post-doctoral studies in the laboratories of Robb Krumlauf at the National Institute of Medical Research studying cranial motor neuron development, and then with David Shima at the ICRF to elucidate molecular mechanisms of blood vessel growth, with support from the Medical Research Council and Imperial Cancer Research Fund. She joined the staff of the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London as Principal Research Fellow in 2003, rising to the faculty ranks of Lecturer (2007), Reader (2008), and Professor (2011) of Neuronal and Vascular Development at UCL, where she is a Wellcome Trust Investigator.

Dr. Ruhrberg's research team at UCL seeks to determine how cells of the nervous and vascular systems interact in “co-patterning” during mammalian development and in disease, with the goal of identifying molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in vascular disease. Their experimental approaches combine reverse genetics with tissue culture models to examine how the vascular endothelial growth factor A and class 3 semaphorin proteins convey signals between cells in the brain, retina, heart and lung. Her research, performed in collaboration with some notable investigators from NAVBO and the international vascular communities, has demonstrated that VEGF forms gradients that guide blood vessel growth in developing organs and that Neuropilin 1 has a dual role in VEGF and matrix signalling in the vascularization of the retina. She was the first to demonstrate that VEGF isoforms cooperate during vessel sprouting in the first stage of angiogenesis, and that macrophages act as bridge cells for vessel fusion in the subsequent stage of vessel networking. Further, Dr. Ruhrberg pioneered the mouse hindbrain as a powerful new model for angiogenesis research. To date, she and her associates have published more than 80 papers in the scientific literature, many of which are highly cited, and she has trained >15 doctoral students and postdocs since becoming an independent investigator.

Her award lecture is entitled, "Molecular and cellular mechanisms of blood vessel growth," and will be presented on Wednesday, October 17 at 2:30pm.  Please join us for VB2018 in Newport this October to honor Dr. Ruhrberg as she receives this award in recognition of her accomplishments and bright future as a vascular biologist.


Compiled by William R. Huckle,
NAVBO Editor

Read more about the Judah Folkman Award