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Fifty years of dedication

By Susan Green

Miguel Marin-Padilla

For nearly five decades, Geisel professor emeritus Miguel Marin-Padilla's dedication to a very old silver-staining technique has set him apart from other neuroscientists.

Long fascinated with the structure of the brain, Marin-Padilla's career profoundly changed in the 1960s when he learned a technique developed by Italian scientist Camillo Golgi more than 100 years ago. The painstaking method clearly reveals microscopic details of cells and the connections between neurons, and it enabled Marin-Padilla to make several fundamental and insightful discoveries that changed neuroscience.

"He was one of the first to describe pioneer cells, which are critical in setting up the pathways by which all other neurons in the brain migrate to their proper place," says Leslie Henderson, a Geisel professor of physiology and neurobiology who has known Marin-Padilla for 25 years.

Actively devoted to studying the brain, Marin-Padilla often refers to his more than 5,000 pristine rapid Golgi preparations. He gathered his observations in a book, The Human Brain: Prenatal Development and Structure (Springer, 2011).

And a recent paper, his 158th, on the brain's vascular system ("The Human Brain Intracerebral Microvascular System: Development, Structure and Function") published this winter in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, has captured the imagination and interest of scientists.

For more about Marin-Padilla's life and research see "Miguel Marin-Padilla: The Solitary Investigator."

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