Society for Neuroscience Award Honors His Work into Understanding the Brain and Nervous System
Nov 29, 2007
A leading authority on neurological disorders of consciousness, Dr. Nicholas Schiff of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City has received a prestigious Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience, the world's largest organization of physicians and scientists who study the brain and nervous system.
The award—for "imaginative, innovative research that will advance novel ideas and have the potential to lead to significant breakthroughs in the understanding of the brain and nervous system and related diseases,"—was presented at the Society's recent annual meeting in San Diego.
Dr. Schiff was the lead author of a breakthrough study in the Aug. 2 journal Nature, reporting that a 38-year-old man who spent more than five years in a minimally conscious state as a result of a severe head injury is now communicating regularly with family members and recovering his ability to move after having his brain stimulated with pulses of electric current. The findings provide the first rigorous evidence that any procedure can initiate and sustain recovery in such a severely disabled person, years after the injury occurred.
Study investigators included NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell's Dr. Joseph Fins and physician-scientists at the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute (Edison, N.J.) and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
Dr. Schiff is associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College and associate attending neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. He is an inventor at Cornell University of some of the technology used in the study described in Nature and is a paid consultant and advisor to IntElect Medical Inc., to which the technology has been licensed by Cornell University and in which Cornell University has an equity interest. A Conflict Management Plan relating to IntElect and its relationship with Dr. Schiff and Cornell University is in place.
A diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, he received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medical College). He completed his residency in neurology at The New York Hospital (now NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell), where he trained with Drs. Fred Plum and Jerome Posner and developed his subspecialty interest in the field of impaired consciousness. He is a co-author of the fourth edition of Dr. Plum and Posner's classic textbook "The Diagnosis of Stupor and Coma." Dr. Schiff is an elected member of the American Neurological Association. His long-range goals are to develop strategies and improved diagnostics to treat of chronic cognitive disabilities resulting from brain injuries.
Society for Neuroscience
The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of more than 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. The mission of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is to (1) advance the understanding of the brain and the nervous system by bringing together scientists of diverse backgrounds, by facilitating the integration of research directed at all levels of biological organization, and by encouraging translational research and the application of new scientific knowledge to develop improved disease treatments and cures; (2) provide professional development activities, information, and educational resources for neuroscientists at all stages of their careers, including undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral fellows, and increase participation of scientists from a diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds; (3) promote public information and general education about the nature of scientific discovery and the results and implications of the latest neuroscience research; support active and continuing discussions on ethical issues relating to the conduct and outcomes of neuroscience research; and (4) inform legislators and other policymakers about new scientific knowledge and recent developments in neuroscience research and their implications for public policy, societal benefit, and continued scientific progress. For more information, visit www.sfn.org.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances—from the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer to the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth, and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally-conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian, which is ranked sixth on U.S.News & World Report's list of top hospitals, also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit www.med.cornell.edu.