Nicolas G. Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor, Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Chair for Retinal Degeneration and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, is one of 23 international academics and one of only 11 from the United States appointed as foreign adjunct professors by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Bazan’s appointment is in the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences, and Society.
According to the Institute, foreign adjunct professors are well-reputed colleagues who have had a long-standing collaborative scientific relationship with Karolinska Institutet. A foreign adjunct professor must hold a position or an appointment corresponding to full professor at their home university or elsewhere and be an internationally leading researcher in his or her field. The term of office normally lasts six years and can be extended upon review.
“I have a collaboration on a novel mechanism involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease there, and I am a co-mentor of a Karolinska graduate student,” noted Bazan. “She will also spend some time working in my lab as her thesis is developed.”
Bazan’s research has led to significant advances in our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and stroke, as well as head trauma, retinitis pigmentosa, and age-related macular degeneration. He has unraveled inter-cell communication in the brain, tracking how and when changes happen as cells are damaged by diseases. This research has provided information critical to recognizing how the brain reacts to disease onset and development, as well as how to minimize the often catastrophic effects of brain injury or disease. An early breakthrough, which is now known as the “Bazan Effect,” was that polyunsaturated fatty acids – omega 3 (DHA) and Omega 6 – are released during seizures and interruptions in blood flow.
Other discoveries include that the supply of DHA to the photoreceptors and synapses is liver-regulated and that in photoreceptor cell renewal, retinal pigment epithelium recycling retains DHA within photoreceptors by a “short loop” (RPE-to-photoreceptors) after the “long loop” (liver-to-retina). He found that Usher’s Syndrome patients have a DHA shortage in the blood, implicating the long loop in retinal degenerations. He discovered enzyme-mediated formation of DHA derivatives in the retina and coined the term docosanoids. He and his colleagues, in collaboration with Dr. Charles N. Serhan, then discovered the synthesis and bioactivity of the first docosanoid, neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1, 2003-4), which arrests cell death in retinal pigment epithelial cells and is neuroprotective in brain ischemia-reperfusion and cellular models of Alzheimer’s disease.
Among Bazan’s awards and recognitions are the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (1989); election to the Royal Academy of Medicine, Spain (1996) and as a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin (1999); President, American Society for Neurochemistry (1999-2001); Doctor Honoris Causa, Universidad de Tucuman, Argentina (1999); Endre A. Balazs Prize, International Society of Eye Research (2000); the Proctor Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) (2007); the Alkmeon International Prize (2011); the Chevreul Medal, Paris, France (2011); the Excellence Award, Annual European Association for Vision and Eye Research, Nice, France (2013); and the Mossakowski Medal, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland (2013).
His local recognition includes being chosen as a Role Model, Young Leadership Council of New Orleans (1994); receiving the Alzheimer’s Association Greater New Orleans Award (2002); being chosen for the Family Services of Greater New Orleans (Ten Outstanding Persons) Award (2003); and induction into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame of New Orleans (2010).
He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Molecular Neurobiology (Springer) (1986-present), a founding Senate Member (2009-2016) for the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), a nationwide research program on Alzheimer’s disease in Germany, a member of numerous NIH study sections, and Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Foundation (2011-2014).