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Daniel Pollen (1935-2016)


Dr. Daniel A. Pollen graduated from Harvard College in 1956 with a degree in physics, and Harvard Medical School in 1960. He became interested in how the brain works and followed up medical school with an internship at the Cleveland Metropolitan Hospital in 1961, and a fellowship at the Montreal Neurological Institute from 1961-1963. Daniel then served as a Lieutenant Commander from 1963-1965 in the U.S. Public Health Service. Dr. Pollen joined the Faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1965 – 1979 where he ran a research lab as an Assistant Professor of Neurology. He became Director of Research at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix from 1979-1983, and then a Professor of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester from 1983-2015. As a neurologist, he made important contributions to understanding epilepsy, visual perception, and Alzheimer’s disease. He chronicled the personal, historic, and scientific aspects of the search for genes causing Alzheimer’s in the critically acclaimed book “Hannah’s Heirs: The Quest for the Genetic Origins of Alzheimer’s Disease” (1993).  His book illustrated his personal belief in the intertwined nature of science, integrity, social justice, duty, and caregiving — a belief he lived and taught. Dr. Pollen continued treating patients and pursuing ideas on the origin of consciousness through age 80 and took great joy in teaching an undergraduate seminar on perception and consciousness at Harvard College.