Since 1945, the Lasker Award has distinguished the most brilliant researchers who have contributed to major advances in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human disease. In the international community, it is widely considered a precursor to the Nobel Prize. Prof. Benabid is the 8th French person to receive this prize.
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Born on 2 May 1942 in la Tronche, near Grenoble, Alim Louis Benabid spent his childhood in Sétif in Algeria. He returned to France to attend secondary school in Grenoble, and received his higher education in medical and science faculties in Paris.
Following his hospital residency, Doctor of Medicine (1970), Doctor of Science in Physics (1978) and a period as Professor of Biophysics at Université Joseph-Fourier in Grenoble, he directed the Inserm Unit 318 “Preclinical Neurosciences” from 1988 to 2006.
Alim-Louis Benabid focused his research on several brain pathologies, especially tumours and abnormal movements, and developed the surgical technique known as stereotactic (or stereotaxic) surgery, which makes it possible to target certain areas of the brain with a high degree of accuracy. He extended its applications to the treatment of patients with drug-resistant Parkinson’s disease and the treatment of other brain disorders.
From 1987 to 1991, Alim-Louis Benabid and his team developed a technique that involves implanting electrodes directly into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease in order to apply high-frequency electrical stimulation. They were thus able to eliminate the motor symptoms (tremor, akinesia, rigidity) of the disease. This intervention shows remarkable efficacy, with very low morbidity, and allows a reduction in drug-based treatments. It presently constitutes the most effective surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease, and also provides basic data of considerable theoretical value.
Alim-Louis Benabid has also extended the indications for deep electrical stimulation to other pathologies, namely dystonia, refractory epilepsy, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
The introduction of electrodes into the brain, a technology developed under his direction, was greeted as a major discovery by the international scientific community.
Alim-Louis Benabid has subsequently focused his efforts on understanding the mechanisms of action of high-frequency deep brain stimulation and demonstrating its potential long-term effects, including its neuroprotective effects, on the natural course of Parkinson’s disease. He is also eager to identify in detail the effective targets and neuronal networks involved in this intervention.
Read and view the profile of Alim Louis Benabid, winner of the 2008 Inserm Prix d’Honneur :
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