The twisting road from basic brain research to helping malaria patients
Andre Fenton always wanted to do research at the most fundamental level -- to uncover basic truths about memory and how it works, never mind how useful. But a friend's accident unexpectedly leads to him inventing a spectacularly useful, and lifesaving, device.
“A vision of myself crystalized: I would try to winkle out of nature some powerful, basic, biological truth and show that to human knowledge.”
Dr. Andre Fenton, is a neuroscientist, biomedical engineer and entrepreneur working on three related problems: how brains store information in memory; how brains coordinate knowledge to selectively activate relevant information and suppress irrelevant information; and how to record electrical activity from brain cells in freely-moving subjects. Andre and colleagues identified PKMzeta as the first memory storage molecule, a discovery identified by Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's journal, as one of the ten most important breakthroughs in all the science reported in 2006. Recordings of electrical brain activity in Andre's lab are elucidating the physiology of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. It was recently discovered that preemptive cognitive training during adolescence changes the brain sufficiently to prevent the adult brain dysfunction and cognitive impairments that arises from brain damage during early life in a schizophrenia-related animal model. Andre is a Professor of Neural Science at New York University's Center for Neural Science. He founded Bio-Signal Group Corp., which is developing an inexpensive, miniature wireless EEG system for functional brain monitoring of patients in emergency medicine applications and other clinical scenarios.