Stephen G. Waxman, MD, PhD is the 2012 Rehabilitation Research and Development Magnuson awardee. Dr. Waxman epitomizes the qualities of a VA intramural investigator, conducting research that bridges basic research and clinical medicine, always with the Veteran in mind. He is the Bridget Marie Flaherty Professor of Neurology, Neurobiology, and Pharmacology at Yale University, and served as Chairman of Neurology at Yale from 1986 until 2009. He founded the Neuroscience and Regeneration Research Center at the West Haven VAMC in 1986, a collaboration between the VA, Yale University and the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Dr. Waxman is also Visiting Professor at University College London and the Institute of Neurology, London.
Stephen G. Waxman, MD, PhD
Dr. Waxman received his BA from Harvard, and his MD and PhD degrees from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He held faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School, MIT, and Stanford University, prior to moving to Yale and the West Haven VAMC. Dr. Waxman has received international recognition for his research, which uses tools from the “genomic revolution” to find new therapies that will promote recovery of function after injury to the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
Dr. Waxman’s research has defined the ion channel architecture of myelinated axons, and demonstrated its importance for conduction in normal axons and for conduction failure after demyelination (Science, 1985). He demonstrated increased expression of sodium channels in demyelinated axons (Science, 1982), identified the sodium channel isoforms responsible for this remarkable neuronal plasticity which supports remission in multiple sclerosis (PNAS, 2004), and delineated the roles of sodium channels in axonal degeneration (PNAS, 1993, 2004). He has also made pivotal discoveries that explain the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain after nerve injury. Most recently, in a keystone leap from laboratory to humans, Waxman carried out molecule-to-man studies combining molecular genetics, molecular biology, and biophysics to demonstrate the contribution of ion channels to human pain (Trends in Molec. Med. 2005; PNAS, 2006).
Dr. Waxman has published more than 600 scientific papers. He has as edited nine books, and is the author of Spinal Cord Compression and of Clinical Neuroanatomy, which has been translated into eight languages. He has served on the editorial boards of many journals including Brain, Annals of Neurology, Trends in Neurosciences, Nature Clinical Neurology, and Trends in Molecular Medicine, and he serves as Editor of The Journal of Physiology and as Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience Letters. Dr. Waxman has trained more than one hundred and fifty academic neurologists and neuroscientists who work at institutions around the world.
A member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Waxman has served on numerous advisory boards and councils, including the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NINDS, and the National Research Advisory Committee of VA/ORD. His many awards include the Tuve Award from NIH, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the Dystel Prize and Wartenberg Award from the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Waxman has also been honored with The William S. Middleton Award, the highest honor awarded annually by BLR&D to VA biomedical research scientists in recognition of their outstanding scientific contributions and achievements in the areas of biomedical and bio-behavioral research relevant to the healthcare of Veterans. As a testament to the global importance of Dr. Waxman’s scientific contributions, he was recognized in Great Britain with The Physiological Society’s Annual Prize, an honor that he shares with Nobel Prize laureates Andrew Huxley, John Eccles, and Alan Hodgkin.
The Magnuson Award is named for Paul B. Magnuson, a bone and joint surgeon and chief medical director for VA in the years after World War II. The award is given annually to VA rehabilitation investigators who display entrepreneurship, humanitarianism and dedication to veterans, in the spirit of Magnuson. Known for his pursuit of creative, individualized solutions for meeting the needs of disabled veterans, Magnuson is quoted as saying, “People are no more alike in the shape and functional movements of their bodies and limbs than they are in their faces.”
Magnuson Award winners receive a $5,000 cash award and a plaque, along with an additional $50,000 per year for three years to supplement ongoing peer-reviewed research.