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Stanford neurologist is one of GQ's 2010 'Rock Stars of Science'

- By Margarita Gallardo

Kurt Iswarienko description of photo

Frank Longo (left) poses with Bret Michaels as part of a "Rock Stars of Science" spread appearing in the December issue of GQ magazine. Click for a high-resolution version of the photo.

For just one day, Stanford neurologist Frank Longo, MD, PhD, got to hang up his white coat and step into the shoes of a rock star. He is featured in the December issue of GQ magazine alongside musician/singer and reality-television star Bret Michaels.

The magazine teamed up with Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® and the Entertainment Industry Foundation/Stand Up To Cancer to bring together eight celebrity musicians and 17 of the nation’s top medical researchers, including two Nobel Laureates. Dubbed Rock Stars of Science™, each photo set is a tribute to “scientific heroes” in such fields as translational cancer research, Alzheimer’s prevention trials, heart disease, integrative medicine, autism, rare diseases, stem cell research and global health.

“Science is an exciting and fulfilling career that involves a similar intensity and passion that we see in rock stars — it’s just expressed in different ways,” said Longo, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The special six-page, public service campaign appears in GQ’s December “Men of the Year” edition, available nationally Nov. 23. The campaign’s goal is to increase awareness of the importance of medical research, encourage more young people to enter careers in science and educate the public about the need for science funding. 

“The RSOS™ campaign shines the spotlight on this critical national issue,” said G. Thompson Hutton, CEO and trustee of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation. The foundation is supported by the designer menswear brand Geoffrey Beene LLC, which dedicates 100 percent of its net profits to philanthropic causes. “If we invest in research, we will save lives now and trillions of dollars later.”

Longo, the George E. and Lucy Becker Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, is a leading researcher in the field of neuroscience. He spearheaded the development of one of the first programs to offer DNA testing for Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, as well as the creation of a national referral center for the use of a technique known as deep-brain stimulation for treating Parkinson’s disease. A major goal of his research has been to create small, druglike molecules that can mimic and achieve the potent effects of naturally occurring growth factors in the nervous system. His research team and collaborators have already pioneered the discovery of such compounds, and these molecules are showing promise in preclinical models of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Down’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.

In preparing for the photo session for the magazine, Longo had a small taste of the rock-star life even before the camera lights were turned on. Just 24 hours prior to the shoot in Los Angeles, he was in Asia giving a series of talks on Stanford’s clinical services and research. “Making it back for the shoot involved three flights in a row. The upside was that I at least had the worn look of a weary rock star,” he joked.

The whole day was a series of firsts for Longo, consisting of wardrobe fittings, hair and makeup, and hundreds of takes to get that one, perfect image.

And instead of being in a lab filled with research scientists, Longo found himself in the company of a director, a team of photographers, prop managers and, of course, Michaels. “We were in the studio quite a while so we had a chance to talk about his experience writing the great rock piece, ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn,’ and about stroke and our research on brain-recovery strategies,” Longo said.

Michaels, the former lead singer of the band Poison and the winner of the 2010 season of the “The Celebrity Apprentice” reality show, made headlines after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke earlier this year. “Bret was a pleasure to work with and he thanked the scientists on set many times for what we do,” he said.

But did Longo, who plays keyboard in a band with other neurologists from the department, get to rock out with Michaels on set? “We didn’t get to play any music together. That would be a dream that will have to wait for another day.”

Longo added, “One of the best parts about participating in this effort is that it helps us get the word out about the amazing neurological research in Alzheimer’s and other areas going on here at Stanford.”

Information about Stanford’s Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences is available at

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2022 ISSUE 1

Understanding the world within us

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