Remembering in Raisman death of a pioneer
THE ACADEMIC whose research led to the development of a ground-breaking treatment for spinal cord injuries has died at the age of 77.
Professor Geoffrey Raisman discovered the olfactory ensheathing cell in 1985, going on to lead a team at University College London which found that the cell, located in the nose, could help repair damaged spinal cords.
The treatment was successfully tested by a Polish surgical team in 2012. Firefighter Darek Fidyka had been paralysed from the waist down, but two years after surgery he had learned to walk again.
Professor Michael Hanna, director of the UCL Institute of Neurology, paid tribute to Prof Raisman, calling him “a true pioneer of spinal cord injury science and a world leader in this area.”
Professor Pawel Tabakow, who led the Polish surgery team, said he and his colleagues were “devastated” by Prof Raisman’s death.
Gary Lineker, the former England striker and patron of a spinal injury charity, tweeted: “Awful news that Professor Geoffrey Raisman has died. His work though in spinal cord repair will be with us forever. A truly great man.” In 2002, Prof Raisman published
a book about his family’s move to Britain from Lithuania in the 1800s. They settled first in Hull, before moving to Leeds in the 1870s.
He insisted the family’s struggle to make ends meet kept him grounded while the world praised his medical breakthrough. In an interview with the
in 2014, he said the attention generated by his medical breakthrough made him “wince”.
But talking about his achievements, he said: “My life has been worth living. I have not only been able to follow my hobby, but it has been of value to people. Who can ask for more?”
Coverage of the 2014 breakthrough