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Walder Distinguished Professorship in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Established in 2022 by the Walder Foundation

The WALDER FOUNDATION is a private family foundation based in Skokie, Illinois. It was established by Joseph and Elizabeth Walder to address critical issues impacting our world. The Foundation’s five areas of focus—science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life—are an extension of the Walders’ lifelong passions, interests, and their personal and professional experiences.

Held by Jiou Wang

JIOU WANG, PhD, MD, is the inaugural Walder Foundation Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In his research, Dr. Wang seeks to understand what controls the birth and death of a protein and how the shape and function of DNA and RNA are connected in health and diseases. He is a world leader and esteemed scientist in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). During his PhD studies at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Wang discovered that misfolded proteins are a characteristic of ALS, and this has been shown to be common theme in neurodegeneration, from FTD to Alzheimer’s. He launched what is now a world-renowned laboratory that has revolutionized our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.

An expert in biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology, over the last quarter century Dr. Wang expanded on his groundbreaking research, working to discover the fundamental principles of what causes proteins to misfold, how that changes their role in the cell, and the ways cells can counter the toxic effects of these misfolded proteins. Importantly, his work has demonstrated that reprogramming cellular protein quality control systems to counter disease-associated misfolded proteins is a paradigm-shifting but promising strategy for developing treatments for a range of neurodegenerative diseases.

In another breakthrough discovery, Dr. Wang uncovered a mechanism by which the gene mutation linked to the most common form of ALS and FTD leads to cellular defects associated with the diseases. The findings, published in Nature, defined the molecular defects of this common form of ALS/FTD at its root and laid a foundation for further studies of similar neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Wang received an MD from Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China in 1997, and a PhD in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 2002.