David Rowitch, MD, PhD
University of California - San Francisco
Dr. Rowitch is developing a neuroprotective drug for premature infants.
David Rowitch, MD, PhD, is Chief of Neonatology and Professor of Pediatrics and Neurological Surgery, University of California – San Francisco.
His laboratory investigates common mechanisms in vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) development that also play a role in human neurological diseases.
Sonic hedgehog (Shh), a secreted protein, is required for pattern formation in the embryonic CNS. Morphogen Shh induces critical neural and glial progenitors in the ventral brain and spinal cord related to the establishment of neural circuitry.
Dr. Rowitch and his team are investigating the mechanism that converts specific levels of Shh signal into distinct transcriptional programs and how cell-specific neural programs determine specific neuronal fates. Given the importance of Shh-dependent cell types in a number of neurological pathologies, including Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases, these studies ultimately will enhance development of cell-based treatments.
Premature infant brain injury is the leading contributor to the increased incidence of cerebral palsy in the United States. Dr. Rowitch recently founded a novel brain bank that collects tissue samples for pediatric neurological diseases, which provides critical material for in-depth analysis of pathobiological mechanisms.
Dr. Rowitch earned his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, U.K. He completed an internship and residency in Pediatrics and a fellowship in Newborn Medicine, both at Children's Hospital, Boston, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, Boston.