Monday, October 8, 2012

2012 MacArthur "Genius" Award Recipients

Nope....  I'm not one of them.  But among the 22 recipients of the $500,000 awards in this year's class of MacArthur Fellows there are two neuroscientists.  

Elissa Hallem, Ph.D.
Arguably, the least well understood of our sensory/perceptual systems is the olfactory system. However, over the past two decades there have been significant advances in our understanding of how odors are represented within the nervous system.  Hallem's approach is to employ is to learn how this is accomplished in relatively simple nervous systems - those of the fruit-fly and the nematode. While these are relatively simple nervous systems compared to our own, the skills required to do this type of work are extremely complex and technically demanding.  Understanding how olfactory cues are processed in these simple organisms provides important insights into our own olfactory system. Hallem's research has important applications as the focus is to examine how mosquitoes an parasitic nematodes employ chemical signals to locate their hosts (that could be you, me, our pets or the animals that we depend upon as sources of food). You can learn more about her work by clicking  here, and reading the articles below:

Fluorescently labeled nervous system of the nematode c. elegans

Benjamin Warf, M.D.
Warf is a Pediatric Neurosurgeon, a specialist in pioneering techniques for treating congenital malformation of the CNS, specifically  hydrocephalus (HC) and spina bifida. The typical surgical approach to treating HC is to place one end of a shunt (tube) within the cerebral ventricals of the brain and the other end within the abdominal cavity.  Excessive cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that would accumulate within the ventricles, compress the developing brain and in young children cause an enlarged head is diverted by the shunt into the body cavity where it is reabsorbed.  However, these shunts often fail, requiring additional surgeries.  Warf developed an alternative approach in which the fine capillaries (choroid plexus) within the ventricles that are the source of CSF are cauterized, thereby reducing the accumulation of CSF within the ventricles.  His work has had significant impact in developing countries such as Uganda, where he established a hospital and a program to train surgeons in the treatment of CF.   You can learn more about his work by clicking  here, and by reading the articles listed below.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Schell has featured prominently in American and international media in recent years.
    In 2005, Dr. Schell made headlines when he successfully performed a one-of-a-kind procedure
    to reattach a man’s severed skull to his spine after a dangerous fall down a flight of
    stairs.To accomplish the procedure, Dr. Schell designed and implemented a custom treatment
    involving a U-Clamp to reattach the man’s skull.

    Gerald Schell MD
    Saginaw Neurosurgery