HSDM’s Nweeia featured on BBC

Dr. Martin Nweeia (center) and his team hook up a narwhal with an electrocardiogram.
Dr. Martin Nweeia (center) and his team hook up a narwhal with an electrocardiogram.

Dr. Martin Nweeia, a clinical instructor in the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials Sciences, is in the news with new media coverage of his work investigating the function of narwhal tusks. The BBC has released a new series, Natural Curiosities, airing this month with David Attenborough, which features Nweeia’s findings on the tusk in a show to first air on February 19 at 8 pm on the Eden Channel. A new book, Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World by Todd McLeish, has also been released recently in presales. The book features Nweeia’s research with collaborating teams of Harvard researchers, including Dr. Peter Hauschka, associate professor of developmental biology at HSDM and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Winston Kuo, assistant professor of developmental biology at HSDM and director of the Harvard Catalyst Laboratory for Innovative Translational Technologies. 

Dr. Nweeia has led four expeditions to the Canadian High Arctic and collaborated on eight additional expeditions with the Arctic Research Division of Canadian Fisheries and Oceans. He has braved polar bear encounters, 120 mile-per-hour winds in an Arctic hurricane, and a near-fatal aircraft landing to study this elusive whale. Each year, he travels to the northern tip of Baffin Island, donning a dry suit in 36-degree waters to conduct novel experiments to discover the purpose and function of the narwhal tusk, a mystery that has eluded scientists for more than 500 years. In addition to his work at HSDM, he is a research associate in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian and the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard.