Paul Greengard

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Paul Greengard
Paul Greengard.jpg
Greengard in 2009
Born(1925-12-11)December 11, 1925
DiedApril 13, 2019(2019-04-13) (aged 93)
New York City, U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Ursula von Rydingsvard (second marriage, in 1985)
Children2 (by his first marriage)
Awards Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (2000)
NAS Award in the Neurosciences (1991)
Dickson Prize (1978)
Scientific career
Fields neuroscience
Institutions Rockefeller University

Paul Greengard (December 11, 1925 – April 13, 2019) was an American neuroscientist best known for his work on the molecular and cellular function of neurons. In 2000, Greengard, Arvid Carlsson and Eric Kandel were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system. He was Vincent Astor Professor at Rockefeller University, [1] and served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Cure Alzheimer's Fund, as well as the Scientific Council of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. He was married to artist Ursula von Rydingsvard.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Neuroscientist Individual who studies neuroscience

A neuroscientist is a scientist who has specialised knowledge in the field of neuroscience, the branch of biology that deals with the physiology, biochemistry, anatomy and molecular biology of neurons and neural circuits and especially their association with behaviour and learning.

Molecule Electrically neutral entity consisting of more than one atom (n > 1); rigorously, a molecule, in which n > 1 must correspond to a depression on the potential energy surface that is deep enough to confine at least one vibrational state

A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their lack of electrical charge. However, in quantum physics, organic chemistry, and biochemistry, the term molecule is often used less strictly, also being applied to polyatomic ions.



Greengard was born in New York City, the son of Pearl (née Meister) and Benjamin Greengard, a vaudeville comedian. His older sister was actress Irene Kane, who later became a writer by the name of Chris Chase; she died in 2013, aged 89. Their mother died in childbirth [2] and their father remarried in 1927. [3] The Greengard siblings' parents were Jewish, but their stepmother was Episcopalian. He and his sister were "brought up in the Christian tradition". [4]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Chris Chase, also known by the stage name Irene Kane, was an American model, film actress, writer, and journalist. Her best-known role was in Killer's Kiss. She later wrote advice books and co-authored several celebrity autobiographies. Her younger brother is Nobel Prize winner Paul Greengard.

Episcopal Church (United States) Anglican denomination in the United States

The Episcopal Church (TEC) is a member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion based in the United States with dioceses elsewhere. It is a mainline Christian denomination divided into nine provinces. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church is Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American bishop to serve in that position.

During World War II, he served in the United States Navy as an electronics technician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working on an early warning system against Japanese kamikaze planes. After World War II, he attended Hamilton College where he graduated in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics. He decided against graduate school in physics because most post-war physics research was focusing on nuclear weapons, and instead became interested in biophysics.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of US Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter.

Greengard began his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in the lab of Haldan Keffer Hartline. Inspired by a lecture by Alan Hodgkin, Greengard began work on the molecular and cellular function of neurons. He received his PhD in 1953 and began postdoctoral work at the University of London, Cambridge University, and the University of Amsterdam. [5] [2] Greengard then became director of the Department of Biochemistry at the Geigy Research Laboratories.

Johns Hopkins University Private research university in Baltimore, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. His $7 million bequest —of which half financed the establishment of Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States up to that time. Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution's first president on February 22, 1876, led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research. Adopting the concept of a graduate school from Germany's ancient Heidelberg University, Johns Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the United States. Over the course of several decades, the university has led all U.S. universities in annual research and development expenditures. In fiscal year 2016, Johns Hopkins spent nearly $2.5 billion on research.

Haldan Keffer Hartline American neuroscientist

Haldan Keffer Hartline was an American physiologist who was a co-recipient of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in analyzing the neurophysiological mechanisms of vision.

Alan Hodgkin physiologist and biophysicist

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin was an English physiologist and biophysicist, who shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Huxley and John Eccles.

After leaving Geigy in 1967, he worked briefly at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Vanderbilt University before taking a position as Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale University. In 1983 he joined the faculty of The Rockefeller University. [5] Greengard was a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute. He was the acting chairman of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation and served on the board of the Michael Stern Parkinson's Research Foundation, which later merged with The Michael J. Fox Foundation. [6] . Both internationally renowned foundations support the research conducted in the Greengard laboratory at The Rockefeller University.[ citation needed ]

Albert Einstein College of Medicine ("Einstein") is a medical school located in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City. Einstein currently operates as an independent degree-granting institute under the Montefiore Medical Center. Einstein has earned a reputation as one of the nation's foremost medical schools, currently ranked 13th in an outcomes-based study reported in the journal Academic Medicine and consistently ranked as one of the "Best Medical Schools" in both research and primary care by U.S. News & World Report. Faculty members received over $174 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone in 2017, ranking 7th in funding per-investigator across 139 medical schools in the US.

Vanderbilt University Private research university in Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Vanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1873, it was named in honor of New York shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school its initial $1-million endowment despite having never been to the South. Vanderbilt hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.

Yale University Private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

He died on April 13, 2019. [7] [8]


Greengard's research focused on events inside the neuron caused by neurotransmitters. Specifically, Greengard and his fellow researchers studied the behavior of second messenger cascades that transform the docking of a neurotransmitter with a receptor into permanent changes in the neuron. In a series of experiments, Greengard and his colleagues showed that when dopamine interacts with a receptor on the cell membrane of a neuron, it causes an increase in cyclic AMP inside the cell. This increase of cyclic AMP, in turn activates a protein called protein kinase A, which turns other proteins on or off by adding phosphate groups in a reaction known as phosphorylation. The proteins activated by phosphorylation can then perform a number of changes in the cell: transcribing DNA to make new proteins, moving more receptors to the synapse (and thus increasing the neuron's sensitivity), or moving ion channels to the cell surface (and thus increasing the cell's excitability). He shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Arvid Carlsson and Eric Kandel for his work on the central regulatory protein DARPP-32. [9]

Neurotransmitter endogenous chemicals that transmit signals across a synapse from one neuron to another

Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that enable neurotransmission. It is a type of chemical messenger which transmits signals across a chemical synapse, such as a neuromuscular junction, from one neuron to another "target" neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. Neurotransmitters are released from synaptic vesicles in synapses into the synaptic cleft, where they are received by neurotransmitter receptors on the target cells. Many neurotransmitters are synthesized from simple and plentiful precursors such as amino acids, which are readily available from the diet and only require a small number of biosynthetic steps for conversion. Neurotransmitters play a major role in shaping everyday life and functions. Their exact numbers are unknown, but more than 200 chemical messengers have been uniquely identified.

Dopamine chemical compound

Dopamine is an organic chemical of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families. It functions both as a hormone and a neurotransmitter, and plays several important roles in the brain and body. It is an amine synthesized by removing a carboxyl group from a molecule of its precursor chemical L-DOPA, which is synthesized in the brain and kidneys. Dopamine is also synthesized in plants and most animals. In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior. The anticipation of most types of rewards increases the level of dopamine in the brain, and many addictive drugs increase dopamine release or block its reuptake into neurons following release. Other brain dopamine pathways are involved in motor control and in controlling the release of various hormones. These pathways and cell groups form a dopamine system which is neuromodulatory.

Receptor (biochemistry) protein molecule receiving signals for a cell

In biochemistry and pharmacology, receptors are chemical structures, composed of protein, that receive and transduce signals that may be integrated into biological systems. These signals are typically chemical messengers, which bind to a receptor, they cause some form of cellular/tissue response, e.g. a change in the electrical activity of a cell. There are three main ways the action of the receptor can be classified: relay of signal, amplification, or integration. Relaying sends the signal onward, amplification increases the effect of a single ligand, and integration allows the signal to be incorporated into another biochemical pathway. In this sense, a receptor is a protein-molecule that recognizes and responds to endogenous chemical signals. For example, an acetylcholine receptor recognizes and responds to its endogenous ligand, acetylcholine. However, sometimes in pharmacology, the term is also used to include other proteins that are drug targets, such as enzymes, transporters, and ion channels.


Paul Greengard had two sons from his first marriage, Claude and Leslie. [10] Claude Greengard holds a PhD in mathematics from UC Berkeley, and is the Founder of Foss Hill Partners. Leslie holds an MD from the Yale School of Medicine and a PhD in computer science from Yale University, and is a professor of mathematics and computer science at and director of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU, a winner of the Steele Prize for a seminal contribution to research, a recipient of both a Packard Foundation Fellowship and an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, and a member of both the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. [ citation needed ]

In 1985, Paul Greengard married internationally renowned sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard, who has received numerous awards and grants, including two awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, and three awards from the American section of the International Association of Art Critics. von Rydingsvard is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her artworks are among the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Walker Art Center.

Discrimination complaints

In February 2018, a federal jury in the Southern District of New York found The Rockefeller University liable for discrimination based on race and national origin which occurred in 2007 in the lab of, and under the supervision of, Dr. Paul Greengard. [11] [12]

Pearl Meister Greengard Prize

Paul Greengard used his Nobel Prize honorarium to help fund the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, an award for women scientists. The award is named after his mother, who died during childbirth. [2] It was established in 2004 to shine a spotlight on exceptional women in science, since, as Greengard observed, "[women] are not yet receiving awards and honors at a level commensurate with their achievements." [13] The annual prize is awarded to an outstanding woman conducting biomedical research. [14]


Paul Greengard won first place in a potato-sack race at a Boy Scout Jamboree in New York. [15]

Awards and honors

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