James W. Simpkins, Ph.D., director of the WVU Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, has been named the Highland Chair of Stroke/Neurology. Vice President and Executive Dean of Health Sciences Clay Marsh, M.D., made the appointment.

A professor in the Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology and Neurology, Dr. Simpkins has spent more than 40 years in academia. His research focuses on the causes and potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. He and his team are studying the cause of brain damage from Alzheimer’s and stroke, and develop treatments based on their understanding of causes.

“West Virginia has one of the highest incidences of stroke in the nation, and current therapies to lessen stroke damage are limited,” Simpkins explained. “Therefore, our lab is searching for novel treatments that can limit the damage and improve recovery from stroke.”

Simpkins earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of Toledo. After receiving his Ph.D. in physiology from Michigan State University, he became a faculty member at the University of Florida, where he served for 23 years. Before coming to WVU in 2012, Simpkins was professor and chairman in the Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

A winner of the WVU School of Medicine Dean’s Excellence Award for Research in 2014, Simpkins also received the 2014-15 Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award in the category of Biosciences and Health Sciences from the Benedum Foundation.

Simpkins serves on the editorial boards for two journals, "Aging and Disease" and "Journal of Neuroinflammation." He has edited three books and published hundreds of articles. Simpkins also has been issued patents in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.

“Dr. Simpkins is a well-known and respected educator and researcher,” Dr. Marsh said. “His work is vitally important to the health of West Virginians, and I look forward to his leadership as we prepare students for the future.”