They got the call

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

Kevin Guskiewicz was one of 22 who got the call last week. The $500,000 call. The “ge­nius” call.

The no-strings-at­tached, $500,000 MacArthur Foun­da­tion “ge­nius grants” were an­nounced Sept. 20 by the Chicago-based MacArthur Foun­da­tion. Re­cip­i­ents largely don’t know they’re in con­tention for the an­nual awards, and of­ten learn they’re win­ners with an out-of-the-blue phone call in­form­ing them they’ll re­ceive the money over the next five years.

Guskiewicz’s stud­ies at the Univer­sity of North Carolina in Chapel Hill have made strides in the di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and pre­ven­tion of sports-re­lated con­cus­sions. Guskiewicz, 45, said he wants to use some of the grant money to de­velop re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion plans for ath­letes and soldiers who suf­fer con­cus­sions. The foun­da­tion noted Guskiewicz’s com­bi­na­tion of lab­o­ra­tory and in-the-field in­ves­ti­ga­tions to fur­ther his re­search.

“It’s sort of like piec­ing to­gether a puz­zle,” he says. “We still have sev­eral more pieces of the puz­zle to put in place.”

Even though they’re re­ferred to as the “ge­nius grants,” MacArthur Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Robert Gal­lucci says the more at­trac­tive qual­ity is cre­ativ­ity. “We hope we’re giv­ing these peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity they wouldn’t other­wise have to pur­sue their area or in­ter­est and let that spirit that has driven them to be free to ac­com­plish more in the fu­ture,” Gal­lucci says. “We’re aim­ing here at the fu­ture.”

Oth­ers with med­i­cal/sci­en­tific lean­ings who cap­tured MacArthur fel­low­ships in­clude:

Wil­liam See­ley, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at San Fran­cisco as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor and neu­ropathol­o­gist who stud­ies hu­man neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease.

Yukiko Ya­mashita, Univer­sity of Michi­gan Med­i­cal School as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor and de­vel­op­men­tal bi­ol­o­gist study­ing stem-cell divi­sion.

Elodie Ghedin, par­a­sitol­o­gist and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who stud­ies ge­netic se­quenc­ing tech­niques.

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