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Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD, was recently selected to receive the Fifteenth Annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research. Dr. Rakic was selected for the award for discovering the principles and mechanistic basis of neuronal migration in the development of the brain. He received the $50,000 cash prize and a commemorative silver medallion at a dinner held in his honor in New York City on September 18. Dr. Rakic is the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neurobiology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. His landmark research provided the contemporary framework for the current understanding of normal and pathological development of the human brain. His description of how neurons migrate explains how positional information in the two-dimensional germinal layer of embryonic stem cells is transformed into the complex, three-dimensional structure of the adult cerebral cortex. This discovery also uncovered a key mechanism in the membrane of the neurons that enables cell-to-cell communication to guide the thousands of different types of neurons to their appropriate final positions in the brain.
Few neuroscientists are unfamiliar with Dr. Rakic's far-reaching discovery of how embryonic nerve cells migrate along pathways of elongated radial glial fibers to reach their final, often distant, destinations in the laminated structures of the central nervous system. He introduced incisive genetic, …
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