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

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