The State of Connecticut and Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering have awarded the 2019 Connecticut Medal of Science to Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD, Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine.
The award is the state’s highest honor for scientific achievement in fields crucial to Connecticut’s economic competitiveness and social well-being. Rakic was selected for his work establishing fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms for the development of the cerebral cortex, the most complex structure in the universe. He will accept the award at the 44th Annual Meeting and Dinner of the Academy on May 28, 2019 in Cromwell.
His discoveries have profound implications for neuropsychiatric disorders, the most disabling medical conditions worldwide. The processes of neuronal production, migration, and synaptic connections in the developing brain that he identified have been implicated in developmental disorders of childhood onset, such as autism and intellectual disability, among many others. His observations also have informed the understanding of psychiatric and neurologic disorders of adulthood including schizophrenia, dementia, and epilepsy.
His pioneering work has set the stage for treatments that hope to target disturbances in brain development. That might have a transformative impact on the lives of patients, families, and society. Thus, his discoveries have enormous implications for public health.
“Connecticut is home to some of the nation’s leading scientists who are pushing the envelope and making revolutionary discoveries that are having a global impact,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “The scientific community here in Connecticut reflects our legacy of innovation. In this case, Professor Rakic’s work is having a life-altering impact on people whose health may be at-risk. On behalf of the entire state, I want to congratulate Professor Rakic on receiving Connecticut’s highest honor for scientific achievement.”
Rakic earned an MD and PhD from the Belgrade University. He was one of the founding recipients of the Kavli Prize, considered to be the most prominent neuroscience prize in the world. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Science, National Academy of Medicine, and of numerous foreign academies, including Norway, Spain, and Royal Academy (UK).
Modeled after the National Medal of Science, the Connecticut Medal of Science is bestowed by the State of Connecticut, with assistance from the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, in alternate years with the Connecticut Medal of Technology.