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Pasko Rakic

Pasko Rakic
Born 1933
Ruma, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Fields Neuroscience
Institutions Yale University
Alma mater University of Belgrade, Harvard University

Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD (Croatian: Paško Rakić) is a neuroscientist at Yale University.


  • Early life 1
  • Research 2
  • Awards and memberships 3
  • Personal 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Rakić was born in the Syrmian city of Ruma, Kingdom of Yugoslavia into a Croatian family.[1][2] His father was originally from Pula, but he studied to become a tax official in Novi Sad. Due to his job, he had to move often. His mother was from Dubrovnik and moved to Vojvodina for a job in the postal service.[2] Rakić graduated with a degree in medicine (MD) from the University of Belgrade School of Medicine in Serbia and then embarked on a career as a neurosurgeon.[1]

His research career began in 1962, with a Fulbright Fellowship at Harvard University.[2][3] In 1966, he returned to Belgrade and made his first big discovery the same year before obtaining his PhD in 1969. He returned to Harvard at this time.[1][2]He moved from Harvard to Yale in 1978.[2][4] At Yale, he founded and served as Chair of the Department of Neurobiology for 37 years. He also served as the director of the Kavil Institute for Neuroscience until 2015.[5]


According to Nature Medicine, his first experiments required "a special grant, nearly 200 rhesus monkeys and so much radioactive thymidine that manufacturers had to retool their entire production system to provide it." Rakic injected the monkeys' fetuses with radioactive thymidine at a particular time after conception. Only replicating cells took up the radioactive label, which enabled Rakic to trace the lineages of brain cells as they were created. He and his team then sliced the brain of each monkey into 7,000 sections for the benefit of future researchers. Because he used a radiolabel that decays slowly, the slides should be useful for years, and have so far led to more than 24 papers.[6]

Among the discoveries made by Pasko Rakic is the first description of neurogenesis in the subventricular zone.

Awards and memberships

In 1985, Rakic was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.[2][7] Since 1985, he has been a foreign member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.[8] Since 1990, he has been a corresponding member of Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.[9]

In 1987, he was the first recipient of the Ariëns Kappers Medal awarded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences for his landmark contributions to neuroscience. In 1997, he received a doctor honoris causa from the University of Zagreb.[4]

In 1994, he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[10] He is also a member of the Society for Neuroscience,[11] where he served as president in 1995 and 1996.[12]

In 2003 he received the 15th annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research, a $50,000 award, which noted two of his hypotheses in particular. The first hypothesis is the radial unit hypothesis, that in the developing cerebral cortex the cells are created at the base of each column, and that each new cell migrates past its predecessors. In the related protomap hypothesis, external signals determine cell function as it grows and forms complex connections.[13]

He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.[14]

In 2008, he was a co-recipient, with Thomas Jessell and Sten Grillner, of the inaugural Kavli Prize for Neuroscience.[2]


He is married to Sandra Biller Rakic, MFT. Previously, he was married to Patricia Goldman-Rakic, also a neuroscientist, who died on July 31, 2003.[15]


  1. ^ a b c "Cartographer of the brain" (PDF). Medicine@Yale (Office of Institutional Planning and Communications, Yale School of Medicine) 4 (1). March–April 2008. Retrieved 2013-01-27. A Croatian, born in the former Yugoslavia, Rakic’s first forays into neurobiology began during his medical education, followed by graduate training in developmental biology and genetics at Belgrade University. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Orhidea Gaura (22 September 2008). "Paško Rakić-strastveni istraživač tajanstvenih neurona" [Paško Rakić-passionate researcher of mysterious neurons].  
  3. ^ Profile: Pasko Rakic
  4. ^ a b "Paško Rakić". Tko je tko u hrvatskoj znanosti (Who's who in Croatian science) (in Croatian). Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  5. ^ "Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD > Neuroscience | Yale School of Medicine" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  6. ^ Dove, Alan. "Profile: Pasko Rakic", Nature Medicine 11, 362 (2005)
  7. ^ "Rakic, Pasko". NAS. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  8. ^ "Paško Rakić". SASA. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  9. ^ "Paško Rakić - Biography". HAZU. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  10. ^ "Active Members as of November 11, 2011: Class & Section" (PDF). AAAS. Retrieved 2013-01-27. Rakic, Pasko ’94 - Yale School of Medicine 
  11. ^ "Pasko Rakic, PhD, MD". SfN. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  12. ^ "SfN Presidents". SfN. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Gruppe 7: Medisinske fag" (in Norwegian).  
  15. ^ Patricia Goldman-Rakic 1937-2003 Cerebral Cortex

External links

  • Rakic Lab web page
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