In His Honor: George Mandybur, MD, To Give Orlando Andy Lecture

Doctors pose for picture.

From left: Orlando J. Andy, MD; Dr. Andy (above) and George Mandybur, MD; Dr. Mandybur during a DBS procedure at University Hospital. Left and center photos courtesy of University of Mississippi Medical Center; photo at right by Tonya Hines/Mayfield Clinic.

George Mandybur, MD, a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic and the Gardner Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders at UCNI, remembers the late Orlando J. Andy, MD, as a colleague, mentor and friend. He also remembers Dr. Andy, a pioneer in the field of movement disorders, seizure disorders and chronic pain, as an iconoclast who wasn’t afraid to defy political wisdom and go his own way.

Dr. Mandybur was a young neurosurgeon at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) when he got to know Dr. Andy, who, though retired, still came to work each day, bounding up the stairs to his laboratory. In an honor that means much, Dr. Mandybur will give the Orlando J. Andy Research Lecture* at UMMC on June 16.

“I knew Dr. Andy and spent a year and a half with him in Mississippi,” Dr. Mandybur says. “I had the opportunity to hear some of his last thoughts about how the brain works. On one occasion I showed him a diagram of what was understood as the general workings of the basal ganglia – a central processing center in the brain that assists with movement. He looked at it and dismissed it right away and said, ‘The brain really doesn’t work that way.’ He proceeded to demonstrate to me his ideas, which at that time were novel but today, we are learning, were not that far from the truth.”

Although medical textbooks do not acknowledge him as such, Dr. Andy was in fact one of the first neurosurgeons to publish an article about deep brain stimulation as a treatment for movement disorders and Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Mandybur says.

“His article predates by three years the article that is quoted now as the first for DBS for Parkinson’s. He described DBS for sick patients with varying problems. Not all of them had Parkinson’s, but tremor was involved in some of them. It’s one of those injustices of history.”

Dr. Andy wasn’t motivated by politics, Dr. Mandybur muses. “He wasn’t political. He did things his own way. He wasn’t interested in stating what other people saw; he stated what he saw. Whether people agreed with him or not, he didn’t seem to mind. He was kind of a lone wolf. He was Stravinsky in an era of Bach. As a result, many people chose not to follow – or not to hear — his tune.”

Dr. Mandybur’s mentoring with Dr. Andy coincided with his tenure as Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at UMMC. Dr. Mandybur later joined the Mayfield Clinic and assumed a faculty position, associate professor, with the UC Department of Neurosurgery.

Dr. Mandybur has performed hundreds of DBS cases during his career. He and other scientists at the Gardner Center are actively exploring questions about Parkinson’s disease and the apparent ability of DBS to slow the degenerative process.

“The surgery for Parkinson’s disease has been available for over 12 years, and in that time we have noticed that in some patients the disease does not seem to progress as rapidly after surgery as it did before the surgery,” Dr. Mandybur says. As a result, he and others theorize that DBS not only alleviates symptoms, but also may provide neuroprotection. Recent research in animal models adds weight to this theory.

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