American Nobel Prize laureate Paul Greengard is to be awarded the Karolinska Institutet Gold Medal, which is being given during the year of the university’s 200-year anniversary. Greengard receives the medal for his research in neurological and mental disorders, and for more than 40 years of collaboration with Karolinska Institutet.
This medal is the highest award conferred by the Karolinska during its 200 year anniversary celebrations, recognising the work of an individual who is not permanently based at the Institutet, but has contributed and achieved eminence in the Karolinska Institutet.
Greengard has inspired several generations of scientists at Karolinska Institutet, says Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, President of Karolinska Institutet. “He has been a speaker at many of our symposia, and he has collaborated with and been a mentor to many of our scientists. It is impossible to overstate his importance.”
Greengard is the Vincent Astor Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University in New York. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000 for his discoveries of how brain cells communicate, and how this communication can be altered. This research has in turn led to the development of new pharmaceuticals and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression.
“Paul Greengard’s most important discovery was that the communication, or signalling, between nerve cells of the brain takes place through a chemical reaction, protein phosphorylation. This involves the addition and removal of phosphate groups from proteins, leading to changes both in the form and in the function of the proteins. This discovery enables us to develop drugs that influence the phosphorylation and thus the functions of various nerve cells,” says Wallberg-Henriksson.
The Gold Medal will be presented on Thursday, 23 September 2010, at the same time as the Karolinska Institutet’s Bicentenary ceremony at the residence of the Swedish ambassador to the US in Washington DC.