People of the U: Parminder VigPublished on Monday, October 7, 2019By: Karen BascomIt was 31 years ago on October 4 that Dr. Parminder Vig came to the United States to begin a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He had just defended his Ph.D. thesis, but didn’t even have his diploma yet.“I didn’t attend graduation, so they had to mail it to me from India,” said Vig, who started working in the Department of Neurology when Dr. Robert Currier was chair.Today, Vig is a professor of neurology and chief of the department’s neuroscience research division. He studies spinocerebellar ataxias, or SCA, a group of rare genetic disorders that affect the brain and cause loss of muscle control.“When I started working in this area, we knew very little about these conditions, and didn’t know which genes were involved in ataxias,” Vig said.In 2016, Vig was named co-inventor on a patent issued to UMMC that covers an experimental therapy for SCA type 1 and ways to shuttle drugs past the blood-brain barrier. Nominated by his peers, he also received UMMC’s meritorious research service award in 2017.Vig enjoys working at the Medical Center because of the independence given to research faculty.“The environment here gives room to grow and the freedom to explore new ideas,” he said.That freedom includes working with collaborators across campus and beyond. With other co-inventors, Vig is in the process of filing two other patent applications related to drug delivery and new treatments for traumatic brain injuries and central nervous system disorders. He is also working with researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi to study the neurological impacts of West Nile and Zika viruses.One of Vig's hobbies is digital painting, where he creates landscapes, portraits and wildlife. Off campus, Vig spends his time creating art. Like science, it requires a readiness to learn from your mistakes, Vig said. When he once made pottery as an engagement gift for a relative, he tried firing it in the kiln quickly before fully dry. It cracked.“Like an experiment, you have to have patience,” Vig said. “In research, you are expected to face your failures and still keep going. You don’t get the rewards right away.”He also enjoys digital painting. Using his finger as a brush, he can adjust the thickness and color of the strokes on his tablet or phone. He creates nature scenes and portraits, taking around fifteen to thirty hours each to complete.He also enjoys bass fishing and growing fruit and vegetable gardens at his home in Flora. He’s most proud of the mango trees he keeps in a greenhouse.“They die if the temperature gets below 45 degrees, but in the greenhouse where the temperature gets up to 120, they love it,” Vig said.Likewise, Vig and his family have thrived in Mississippi. He and his wife, a pediatrician who completed her residency training at UMMC, have two adult children: Their son is an orthopaedic surgery resident in Albany, New York, and their daughter is a senior in the honors college at the University of Mississippi.“I feel that people treat others well here,” Vig said.Every institution is rich with personal stories. We want to know ours.Do you know a student, staff, volunteer or faculty member at the University of Mississippi Medical Center whose story would make an interesting feature?Know someone who has a fascinating hobby? Who participates in a remarkable group? Who has accomplished something amazing? Who deserves to be recognized?We want to learn more about each individual who makes up our extraordinary UMMC Family, and we want to share what makes each person unique in the People of the U section of our dynamic new UMMC Intranet.To nominate someone to be considered for a People of the U feature, just complete and submit this short form. If that person is picked for a feature, a member of the Communications and Marketing staff will contact him or her to learn more about his or her personal story.Soon, the rest of the Medical Center will know why your nominee is an outstanding reminder of what makes this place so special – the People of the U.