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Dr. Whitney Parker Wins 2018 Gaposchkin Research Prize

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Dr. Whitney Parker - Weill Cornell Medicine

Neurosurgical resident Whitney Parker, MD, PhD, has been named the winner of the Christopher Gaposchkin Research Prize in Neurological Surgery for her presentation at the 2018 Resident Research Day. The Christopher Gaposchkin ’99 Research Prize, established in 2014, spotlights and recognizes excellence in research by a neurosurgery resident.  Last year’s winner was Dr. Hilarie Tomasiewicz, who, at the time, had just concluded her fifth year of residency. Previous winners include Dr. Brenton Pennicooke (2016), Dr. Peter Morgenstern (2015), and Dr. Dmitri Sigounas (2015).

Dr. Parker won the award at the conclusion of her fourth year of residency, for research that focused on NR2B, a receptor subunit that is a critical component of neuronal signaling in early brain development. Prior research in animal models had shown that NR2B’s mutations resulted in epilepsy, but these mutations had not previously been assessed in humans.   

In her research presentation, Dr. Parker demonstrated that cells taken from patients with NR2B mutations can assist in creating a human, neuron-based model for investigating NR2B’s role in brain development—thus furthering our understanding of NR2B’s mutations in humans. Further research by Dr. Parker and her team shows the role these mutations play in producing epileptic seizures, which can lead to safer testing of therapeutic strategies that are based on the concept of precision medicine (treatments customized to an individual patient).

The award was established in memory of Dr. Christopher Gaposchkin, who passed away from cancer three years after completing his neurosurgery residency at Weill Cornell in 1999.  

Dr. Parker received her B.A, M.D, and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

(More about Dr. Parker)