Friday, 23 January 2009


"Goran Simic from the Croatian Medical Faculty won a prestigious award of the `Acta Neuropathologica for 2008.

Professor Goran Simic from the Croatian Medical Faculty has been pronounced the best neuropathologist in the world for the year 2008 for his discovery of mechanisms of occurrence of spinal muscular atrophy. The award "Kurt Jellinger Prize" is awarded by a leading international magazine specialised in neuropathology, "Acta Neuropathologica" that featured Dr. Simic`s in the September issue. Apart from being awarded the prize, Dr. Simic was also appointed a member of the magazine`s editorial board, which is a great commendation, especially considering the fact that there is no opportunity for specialisation in neuroscience in Croatia.

Unexpected success

It is necessary to stress that Goran Simic is the first scientist whose photo was put on the cover of the magazine "Acta Neuropathologica". Professor Simic will receive the reward and medal for his work on October 10, 2008 at the annual assembly of the German neuropathology and neuroanatomy association in Wurzburg. Asked if he had expected the prize, Simic said he did not.- I realised that getting an award was a possible option only when the chief editor of the magazine, Werner Paulus, informed me on June 30 that I entered the narrow selection of candidates. Apart from the discovery, the magazine also looks for the contribution to science hitherto. My previous discoveries in neuropathology, Alzheimer`s disease and published works in the basic research of brain build-up probably contributed to me getting the award. I am also sure that the fact that in 1992 I spent a month in Professor Jellinger`s laboratory on an Austrian government scholarship - Professor Simic told us.

Great success of a modest man

The work for which Simic received the prize shows his discoveries related to the pathogenesis of spinal muscular atrophy and the significance of the discovery for the development of new treatment methods. In talks with Professor Simic we could note that he is a very modest person considering his success. Even he admitted that his colleagues had to "force him" to boast his success in the media. He said he was very proud that his work had been published in such a prestigious magazine, adding that several hundreds of neuropathologists around the world were fighting to get their work published in the magazine. From the perspective of neuropathology, he has been researching spinal muscular atrophy for some 20 years in very humble conditions, with meagre financial resources and exclusively independently or with the help of colleagues and friends. Neuroscientists in other countries have much better conditions and significantly more financial resources, so Simic`s success is definitely commendable.

What is the disease?

Professor Simic explained that spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by a mutation of the SMN1 gene on the fifth chromosome. Every 40th person is the carrier of the gene mutation. The illness is developed if both children`s parents carry the mutation. But Simic stressed that in a small number of cases, the mutation is newly formed. This means that people who are not carriers can also have children with SMA.SMA is a cluster of inherited diseases that causes the progressive deterioration of muscle. The most common form is proximal SMA that begins very early on with the deterioration of muscles of the limbs. This is the second most frequent neuromuscular disease and some consider it the most frequent rare disease.

How can parents recognise the disease in their child?

We learnt from Professor Simic that the disease has four types. In the worst type symptoms are visible before nine months old with a decreased muscle tone and their symmetric atrophy, as well as a loss of deep tendon reflexes.he symptoms are not immediately visible after birth and are most often visible between two to four months of age. The disease is fatal, most often by the age of three when respiratory arrest occurs. The second type of the disease has weaker symptoms that occur between three and 15 months of the baby`s life. The survival period is longer here, but most of those with the disease die by the age 15. Types 3a and 3b exhibit symptoms by around three years of age. The fourth type is more rare and its symptoms do not surface before the age of 30. On the condition of science in CroatiaƂ Professor Simic says that in Croatia, especially at the Medical Faculty in Zagreb, the biggest problem is insufficient financial backing of projects. In the new cycle of projects, the percentage of resources for biomedical sciences has been decreased by 4.5 percent. Simic believes this will affect the success of Croatian scientists in a year already. Because of this he cannot condemn the large number of young experts who are leaving the country to work. They have better working conditions abroad, which is why they can achieve better results and so contribute to mankind.

What is necessary for success?

Every person must give meaning to their own life. As a medical scientist, helping other people by curing diseases is success. I think that self-respect and not giving up in difficult circumstances is most important for success. One needs to discard negative thoughts and visualise positive outcomes and focus on their realisation - Professor Goran Simic said, addressing young people, especially young scientists."

to sum up the ball of feelings all in one, there is nothing but pride and honour in the knowledge that professor goran simic was my professor for clinical anatomy, and one of my favourites at that. it certainly ain't everyday that your professor is nominated and acknowledged as the world's best neuropathologist of the year.

a middle aged quiet soul, who exuded understanding even before he spoke, and had an ever ready kind smile for anyone, yes, even for the stupid ones who had to ask imbecilic questions. such was the air about him. the article probably only managed to touch on a fraction of the actual man, and yet, there is much joy and happiness for the professor who stood tall and just liked to potter around his way in his own simple fashion.

remembered always staying behind to ask questions, especially since he was one of the few more approachable, and fluent in english, professors around the campus. a thoughtful man of little words, but one of action, whose softhearted essence and humble approach in life, has a sympathetic touch somehow.

words of "every person must give meaning to their own life... and focus on their realization" will be cherished, discreetly engraved and remembered in this student's mind despite being far away at this point. reflect and work upon it one must.

my dearest professor, though you would never read this, thank you. thank you so very much for the words of wisdom and lessons imparted on and off campus, for exemplifying and reminding me that there is more, somehow, taught in the use of a soft and unobtrusive touch and tack, and that actions speak louder than words. thank you, for emphasizing and refreshing in my dying brain cells, probably count the dead ones in as well, that failure is the mother of success, and that what maketh a man, is what he makes out of himself.


Jasmin said...

Having inspiring professors is one of the best things that can happen in school, because they influence so much of what one does later in life.

p.s. am back in town if you ever want to meet up and have a good long chat, and of course, a bony hug!

the little boy said...

hi sweetie...
oh my god... u're back... -fat bony hug- sounds brilliantly wonderful... when u back till hun??? thank u for still dropping a hi on this little space... it means so much to me... -bone crushing hug- miss and love u lots dear... -smuacks-