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Laura Manuelidis, MD

Professor of Surgery (Neuropathology); Section Chief Neuropathology (Surgery)



Dr. Manuelidis discovered and sequenced major repeated DNAs (human alpha satellite and retroviral LINE DNAs). She demonstrated the specific organization of each respectively in centromeres and in dark tissue-specific gene regions by non-isotopic in-situ hybridization. This method also allowed her to delineate the cohesive 3-D arrangement of individual chromosomes in the interphase nucleus of different types of cells.

She also is known for studies of neurodegenerative processes, with numerous original contributions to the transmission and pathogenesis of human Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and sheep scrapie agents. These unique animal and culture models have revealed fundamental blood-borne routes of infection, innate immune responses to a foreign infectious agent, and virus-like structural characteristics of the infectious particle. In contrast to the dominant protein only or prion hypothesis of infection, Infectious particles stripped of detectable prion protein (PrP) remain highly infectious. Moreover, nucleases destroy infectivity but do not affect any form of host PrP. Instead, host PrP misfolding appears as a late stress response that traps and eliminates the infectious agent.

Recently she discovered two circular "SPHINX" DNAs in the cytoplasm of mammalian cells. These elements are derived from prokaryotes and are present in mammalian brain cells, especially at synapses. These findings have major ramifications for the discovery of additional unsuspected evolutionary types of endosymbiotic exchanges between mammals and ancient environmental structures and neurodegeneration.

Education & Training

  • MD
    Yale University (1967)
  • BA
    Sarah Lawrence College (1963)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Chromosoma PrizeChromosoma1989
Research Career Development awardNIH1974
Andrew W Mellon Foundation Young Investigator Award1974
Program Projects and R01 grantsNIH1970
Swibelius Award for Cancer Research1970

Professional Service

Advisory Panel on Alzheimer's Disease, Department of Health and Human Services 1993-1996Advisor1993 - 1997
television (PBS, ABC, BBC)Presenter/Speaker1989 - Present
FDAvarious TSE and other committees1989 - Present
Chromosoma, Acta Neuopathology, J Neurovirology, Cytogenetics & Cell Genetics, Virulence, Viral immunollogyAssociate Editor1986 - Present
NIH study sections (various)Advisor1982 - Present

Departments & Organizations