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Mahlon DeLong

mahlon delong, mahlon delong emory
Mahlon R DeLong is an American neurologist and professor at the Medical School of Emory University His research has advanced the understanding and treatment of Parkinson's disease, dystonia, tremor and other neurological movement disorders

DeLong attended Stanford University AB 1962, Harvard Medical School MD 1966, completed his internship at Boston City Hospital and his residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and subsequently joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University Since 1990, he has been a member of the faculty at Emory University, where he has been the William Patterson Timmie Professor of Neurology since 1993 He is a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiative

In 1968, DeLong began five years of research training in the laboratory of Edward Evarts at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland In 1971, he and Russell T Richardson did experiments with monkeys to find out first groups of neurons nucleus basalis, which are involved in the pathogenesis conditioned learning and they revealed the role played by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine[1]

At the NIH, DeLong recorded the reactions of single brain cells in a part of the brain called the basal ganglia At that time, it was known that the basal ganglia were involved in movement, and were the part of the brain most significantly affected in Parkinson’s disease However, little was known about how the basal ganglia affected movement, or how disease of the basal ganglia caused the movement disorders seen in Parkinson's disease In meticulous experiments over several years, DeLong measured the firing of specific cells in the basal ganglia of awake monkeys when they performed specific trained movements

Based on this work, and the work of others, DeLong and his colleagues identified a series of separate circuits that connect the basal ganglia with the cerebral cortex and thalamus These circuits allow parallel processing of emotions, thoughts, and movement

In the 1980s, DeLong and his colleagues began to study monkeys with an experimentally-induced disease much like Parkinson’s disease He discovered that neurons in a part of the basal ganglia called the subthalamic nucleus were firing excessively, and that destroying ablating the subthalamic nucleus greatly improved the symptoms

Shortly thereafter, neurosurgeon Alim-Louis Benabid discovered that the same improvement could be achieved by placing a wire into the subthalamic nucleus, connecting it to a battery and delivering an adjustable high-frequency stimulation to the tip of the wire—a technique called deep brain stimulation Today, this technique is used to improve symptoms and the quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease who are not responding adequately to pharmacologic treatment Ablation or deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus has transformed the lives of many people with Parkinson’s disease

For his work in understanding the circuits connecting the basal ganglia to other parts of the brain, and in applying that knowledge to develop a technique that has eased the suffering of many people with Parkinson’s disease, DeLong was honored in 2014 with the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences[2]

The same accomplishments were recognized by his receipt with Benabid of the 2014 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award [3]


  1. ^ zB Timeline Behaviourist Approach, Matt Jarvis, Psychology Review, pdf
  2. ^ Laureates
  3. ^

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