Awards : Hall of Fame Award

Barry Festoff, M.D. ’66

Barry Festoff, M.D. ’66 joined the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1976 as its first chief for neurology service at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Since arriving, he has been the director of the Neurobiology Research Laboratory and recently was made head of the Neuroscience Research Division there. He is a professor in the Department of Neurology and the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Festoff has been in federal service for more than 30 years, and with the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center more than 20 years, having established a major research unit there, conducting basic and applied research in the pathobiology of neurologic illnesses. He has made major contributions to the understanding of the role of proteases in degeneration of the neuromuscular synapse.

Festoff’s clinical interests are in neuromuscular disorders, specifically amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He has done extensive research in neurobiology focusing on neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and in animal models of acute spinal cord injury. He is one of the pioneers in studies of serine proteases, especially thrombin, and their inhibitors (serpins) in the nervous system. Festoff is recognized internationally as a bench research neurobiologist for his work. His current projects include those to reverse neuronal death in aging, neurodegenerative diseases and in trauma, understanding the mechanisms underlying programmed cell death after spinal cord injury, formation of inclusion bodies in Parkinson’s Disease and other related disorders, as well as mechanisms of spheroid and conglomerate formation in ALS.