Laura Manuelidis is a physician and neuropathologist at Yale University. She earned her B.A. degree from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied poetry, and her M.D. from Yale Medical School. She is head of the section of Neuropathology in the department of Surgery at Yale. She is also on the faculty of Neurosciences and Virology. Her major contributions include the discovery of complex repeated DNAs at centromeres and on chromosome arms (LINES) and their organization in interphase nuclei, in addition to elucidating mechanisms of infection in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).
She has challenged the originally considered bizarre but now generally accepted explanation for the cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (better known as "Mad Cow Disease") and the human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The generally accepted explanation was put forth by Stanley B. Prusiner, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. In his work, he coined the term prion ("proteinacious infectious agents") to refer to a previously undescribed form of infection due to malformed proteins. In January 2007 Manuelidis and her colleagues published a contributed article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claiming that they found a virus that could be responsible for the diseases. Manuelidis said, "Although much work remains to be done, there is a reasonable possibility these are the long sought viral particles that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, The is probably not infectious, but is a pathological result an infectious virus binding to this host protein."
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