If you, or someone you know, has Parkinson’s disease, mental health issues, or other neurological disorders, medication can often help. The bulk of these medications have been established based on the work of neuroscientist Paul Greengard from the Rockefeller University, who worked out just how the brain responds to neurotransmitters — the chemicals that help the brain signal. Most of what most neuroscientists know today about neurotransmission, and specifically the dynamics of slow synaptic transmission, is predicated on the work of Dr. Greengard. The interview features stories about his seminal research discoveries and his competitive streak in potato sack races.
Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, of Rockefeller University, has been at the center of discovery of the molecular determinants of why we eat what we eat and, more importantly, why we eat so much of what we eat. Over the last three decades, now almost daily in the media, alarm has been sounded about the growing obesity epidemic. Dr. Friedman has spent his research career engaged in the discovery and characterization of leptin, one of the most important hormones regulating appetite and hunger.
Dr. Eugene Braunwald has often been called the father of modern cardiology. Science Watch has listed Dr. Braunwald as the most frequently cited author in cardiology. Beyond numerous awards and 20 honorary degrees, he was the first cardiologist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Nobel Prize winners in medicine have named Braunwald as the person who has contributed the most to cardiology in recent years. He speaks today about his trajectory from Nazi-occupied Austria through his immigrant struggle in New York City to land as the Chairman of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Today in the United States, more than 6,000 people a year receive a liver transplant, and since liver transplants have begun, over 200,000 patients have received this therapy. They survive today due to the efforts of a legendary scientist and surgeon: Thomas Starzl of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He performed the first successful liver transplant in 1967 and refined the use of immunosuppressive drugs such that patients could tolerate their grafts — some for decades. With Starzl’s efforts over the last 50 years, thousands of patients with end-stage liver disease have been able to live long and active lives.
After Francis Collins received his PhD in Physical Chemistry at Yale University and his medical degree at the University of North Carolina, he zeroed in on genetics. He is noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and later his leadership of the Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human genome. Since August 2009, Collins has served as the director of the NIH, the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world.