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Colleagues, friends gather to commemorate Nobel Laureate Axelrod

Luminaries from the fields of neuroscience and mental health will gather at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Monday, May 23, to celebrate the life and achievements of one of their most honored colleagues, the late Nobel Laureate Julius Axelrod, Ph.D. Dr. Axelrod, known to his friends as "Julie," spent most of his 50 years as an NIH scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, (NIMH) which will host the symposium, Celebrating Julie.

"NIH is proud to have been Dr. Axelrod's scientific and intellectual home for the half century he spent conducting novel and successful research on a wide array of subjects," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "The symposium is a small way of commemorating his achievements and celebrating his memory."

Dr. Axelrod, who died in December 2004 at the age of 92, did his early work at NIMH on the metabolism of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and other psychoactive drugs. He proceeded to revolutionize the field of pineal gland research, discovering that melatonin is the gland's key hormone. He also made key discoveries about the regulation and interaction of stress hormones. But he is probably best known for his research in the early 1960's on brain chemistry, which has become fundamental to our understanding of depression and anxiety disorders. His research described the "re-uptake" mechanism in brain cells, which regulates the levels of neurotransmitters available for communication between neurons (in fact, Dr. Axelrod coined the phrase "re-uptake inhibitor"). These findings led to the development of modern antidepressant medications--Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)--and to a 1970 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Dr. Axelrod and two other researchers.

Dr. Axelrod's curiosity and enthusiasm inspired him to investigate many topics in science, in addition to the brain. He studied the tissue distribution and metabolism of caffeine, amphetamines, ephedrine, and narcotic
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Contact: Jennifer Loukissas
NIMHpress@nih.gov
301-443-4536
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
18-May-2005


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