TIME Magazine Names Harvard "Brain Bank" Spokesperson One of the Most Influential People in the World

May 13, 2008

Adriana Bobinchock

Belmont, MA - Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean Hospital, also known as the "Brain Bank," has been named to TIME Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2008. The list was published in the May 12 issue of the magazine.

Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD

Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD

Taylor was a researcher at Harvard affiliate McLean Hospital, specializing in postmortem brain tissue research on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, when at the age of 37 she had a stroke. For the last 12 years, she has been successfully rebuilding her brain and regaining the faculties that she lost, including the ability to walk and talk. While recovering, Taylor has continued to study the mysteries of the brain as a neuroanatomist and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine. She has also become a nationally sought after speaker about the brain, an accomplished artist and a published book author.

TIME chose Taylor for its list because her work influences the way we see and understand the brain. As the national spokesperson for the Brain Bank, the largest and oldest federally funded brain tissue resource center in the United States, Taylor has helped spread the message of how important it is for scientists to be able to study the human brain.

"At the Brain Bank, we have a slogan that says 'from knowledge will come a cure,' and that is something that I truly believe," said Taylor. "Research over the past decade has shown that the study of human brain tissue is essential to increasing our understanding of how the nervous system functions, as well as why some people develop a psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorder, while others do not. My hope is that my work will encourage people who would not ordinarily do so, to donate their brain. Brain donation and research will lead to a clear understanding of psychiatric illness and its cures."

Television host and producer Dick Clark, who suffered from a stroke in 2004, wrote a profile about Taylor in TIME.

"Those of us struggling with the residual effects of stroke certainly don't need to be reminded of what it means when the brain is damaged...None of us needs sympathy; what we do need is a helping hand and understanding. Someone like Taylor provides that, helping a terrible blow become far less so," wrote Clark.

Francine Benes, MD, PhD, director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center and director of the Program in Structural and Molecular Neuroscience at McLean Hospital, said Taylor's efforts to destigmatize psychiatric illness and brain donation has had a strong impact on the Brain Bank.

"Jill has an uncanny ability to talk to people and make them understand the work that we are doing and the advances that we are making," said Benes. "The Brain Bank provides tissue to some of the nation's top scientists who are working to develop better treatments for many of life's most devastating illnesses, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism. Our work would not be possible without brain donation. Jill knows this and brings our message to people across the country."

Established in 1978, the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center is a centralized resource for the collection and distribution of human brain specimens for research in a broad range of neurological and psychiatric disorders. It is currently the largest Brain Bank in the United States with more than 6,000 donations.

McLean Hospital is the largest clinical care, teaching and research facility of Harvard Medical School, an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital, and a member of Partners HealthCare.

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