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UCLA award named after Indian

The University of California has instituted the Mani Bhaumik Award, reports Gurmukh Singh.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 14:43 IST

The Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) has instituted the Mani Bhaumik Award to support scientists who promote understanding of the role of the brain and conscious mind in healing, through visionary research, books and education.

Indian-born, Bel Air-based Bhaumik, who co-invented the laser technology that made LASIK surgery possible, will fund the annual $10,000 award.

Author of the best-selling book Code Name God, Bhaumik, who was born in a hut in Midnapore district of West Bengal, was the first student to earn a Ph.D. in physics from the India Institute of Technology. He came to UCLA on a Sloan Foundation Fellowship for his post-doctoral work in 1957.

A UCLA press statement recognizes how Dr Bhaumik's contribution to laser technology earned him election as a fellow to the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

He was also given the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award by the Indian American Heritage Foundation at a gala function at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Bel Air in November.

The Cousins Center encompasses an interdisciplinary network of scientists working to advance the understanding of psychoneuroimmunology by linking basic and clinical research programs and by translating findings into clinical practice.

The Center is affiliated with the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"We are grateful for Dr. Bhaumik's generous support of both our center and the science of psychoneuroimmunology," says Dr. Michael Irwin, Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA and director of the Cousins Center.

"As an international honor, the Mani Bhaumik Award will help foster worldwide awareness and understanding of the role of the mind on healing."

Quoting Bhaumik, the UCLA press release says his interest in psychoneuroimmunology springs from the pioneering work of Norman Cousins.

Cousins came to UCLA in 1978 as an adjunct professor of medical humanities to harness the energies of top scientists dedicated to the emerging field of psychoneuroimmunology.

Cousins was particularly interested in the impact of positive emotions and attitudes, such as purpose, determination, love, hope, faith, will to live and festivity. His efforts resulted in the creation of the UCLA Program in Psychoneuroimmunology, which now carries his name.

"Consciousness, or more precisely awareness, is an irreducible primary reality of the universe and it has become clear that consciousness can have a profound effect on healing," Bhaumik said. "I'm excited by this opportunity to help further the legacy of Norman Cousins in the field of psychoneuroimmunology and the work of the UCLA center that bears his name."

Nominations for the Mani Bhaumik Award must include a 500-1,000 word justification for the nomination, an updated curriculum vitae and reprints of two to six publications of the work cited in the nomination. Anyone may self-nominate or nominate another individual.

The award committee will include scientific and education leaders dedicated to understanding the science of healing. The award will be presented at an annual ceremony held at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The recipient will have an opportunity to deliver a keynote address on his or her work, which will be submitted for publication in a related professional journal, says the UCLA press release.