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Ariana Mullin, 29

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Mullin’s career in neuroscience grew out of the frustration she felt as a child, when doctors could not answer her questions about the Alzheimer’s disease that was afflicting her grandmother. “She’s the reason I do what I do,” says Mullin. “All I wanted was to find a way to make her better.” As senior associate scientist at Acorda Therapeutics in Ardsley, Mullin — who is listed as first author on four papers published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, including the Journal of Neuroscience — was a key member of a team working to develop a new drug in a much-discussed area of treatment for multiple sclerosis, remyelination therapy. The treatment aims to rebuild damaged myelin sheaths, which wrap around the axons of nerve cells, and Acorda’s project is one of the most advanced efforts in this area of research. As a “bench scientist,” Mullin’s role involved testing specific compounds to determine which ones achieve the results they are looking for. Recently, a legal setback with some of Acorda’s patents prompted the firm to downsize its headcount by 20 percent — including Mullin. The young scientist remains undaunted in fulfilling her promise to her grandmother, even it means with a different company. “There’s no greater honor or privilege than to be in a position where you can change people’s lives for the better,” she says.

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