2002 Finalist Thomas Thannickal
Thomas Thannickal, for his essay, "Human Narcolepsy as a Neurodegenerative Puzzle," based on postdoctoral research done in Dr. J. M. Siegel's laboratory at the Sepulveda VA Medical Center and University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Thannickal was a Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Dr. V. C. Thomas at the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India, and received his Ph.D. in 1995. In 1996 he joined Dr. V. Mohan Kumar's laboratory at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, where he studied the basic mechanism of sleep. Dr. Thannickal moved to the United States in 1999 and, working with Dr. Siegel, investigated the neurophysiological basis of human narcolepsy. Their work indicated that narcolepsy is associated with a neurodegenerative process that causes significant loss of hypocretin neurons.