CADILLAC — Dr. Gary Dunbar has been chosen to receive the Gusi Peace Prize in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday.
Dunbar was born and raised in Cadillac by his mother and late father, Betty and Leo Dunbar. He graduated from Cadillac High School in 1967 and went on to receive his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Clark University in 1987. He has been working at Central Michigan University as a professor for the past 40 years and has directed Central’s neuroscience program for the last 20 years. He also serves as the executive director at the Field Neurosciences Institute based in Saginaw.
Each year the Gusi Peace Prize Foundation honors individuals from a wide variety of disciplines who have made exemplary contributions to global peace and progress. Dunbar’s nomination was informed by his distinguished career in neuroscience and his research on Huntington’s disease, a heritable neurological disorder which causes devastating cognitive and motor deficits. His research focused on various methods of combatting the disease in experiments involving mice. One such method uses viral vectors to genetically modify adult stem cells harvested from bone marrow. These stem cells were found to lead to increased levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Dunbar’s research observed that increased BDNF levels improved maze-solving and balancing abilities in neurologically compromised mice.
Dunbar is thankful that his work has been recognized by the Gusi Peace Prize Foundation. He will be speaking about his work alongside other awardees in the days preceding the award ceremony in Manila. He reports that the ceremony will be held outside and include a 21-gun salute. During the occasion, awardees will also have the opportunity to meet dignitaries and members of Philippine Congress. Dunbar looks forward to his stay in the Philippines and the chance to explore the nation’s landmarks and rich geography.