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 composed of 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's 3.9 million square miles. 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 largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

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 and their father remarried in 1927. [2] The Greengard siblings' parents were Jewish, but their stepmother was Episcopalian. He and his sister were "brought up in the Christian tradition". [3]

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 2017 population of 8,622,698 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 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 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. He 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. In 1953 he received his PhD and began postdoctoral work at the University of London, Cambridge University, and the University of Amsterdam. [ citation needed ]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

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 over 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 50 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 the United States 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. with 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 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

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. The identification of the electron in 1897, along with the invention of the vacuum tube, which could amplify and rectify small electrical signals, inaugurated the field of electronics and the electron age.

He then became director of the Department of Biochemistry at the Geigy Research Laboratories. 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. 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. Both internationally renowned foundations support the research conducted in the Greengard Laboratory at The Rockefeller University. [ citation needed ]

The Albert Einstein College of Medicine ("Einstein"), is a medical school located in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City. Founded in 1953 as a college of Yeshiva University, Einstein transitioned in 2019 to operate 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. [4] [5]


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 was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000 "for showing how neurotransmitters act on the cell and can activate a central molecule known as DARPP-32". [ citation needed ]

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, [6] and in 1985 he married internationally renowned sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard. She 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. She 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.

Dr. Leslie F. Greengard is an American mathematician, physicist and computer scientist. He is co-inventor with Vladimir Rokhlin Jr. of the fast multipole method (FMM) in 1987, recognized as one of the top-ten algorithms of the 20th century.

Ursula von Rydingsvard artist

Ursula von Rydingsvard is a sculptor who has been working in Brooklyn, New York for the past 30 years. She received her MFA from Columbia University in 1975 after which time she started to work with cedar, a material through which she has explored a wide range of images.

Guggenheim Fellowships are grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." The roll of Fellows includes numerous Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer, and other prize winners.

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 ]

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 in the lab of, and under the supervision of, Dr. Paul Greengard. [7] [8]

Pearl Meister Greengard Prize

Paul Greengard used his Nobel Prize honorarium to help fund the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, an award for women scientists named after his mother and 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." [9] The annual prize is awarded to an outstanding woman conducting biomedical research. [10]


Paul Greengard won first place in a potato-sack race at a Boy Scout Jamboree in New York. [11]

Awards and honors

Related Research Articles

G protein Type of proteins

G proteins, also known as guanine nucleotide-binding proteins, are a family of proteins that act as molecular switches inside cells, and are involved in transmitting signals from a variety of stimuli outside a cell to its interior. Their activity is regulated by factors that control their ability to bind to and hydrolyze guanosine triphosphate (GTP) to guanosine diphosphate (GDP). When they are bound to GTP, they are 'on', and, when they are bound to GDP, they are 'off'. G proteins belong to the larger group of enzymes called GTPases.

Eric Kandel American neuropsychiatrist

Eric Richard Kandel is an Austrian-American medical doctor who specialized in Psychiatry, a neuroscientist and a University Professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He was a recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shared the prize with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard.

Günter Blobel German American biologist (1999 Nobel Prize)

Günter Blobel was a Silesian German and American biologist and 1999 Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology for the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell.

George Emil Palade American cell biologist

George Emil Palade ForMemRS HonFRMS was a Romanian-American cell biologist. Described as "the most influential cell biologist ever", in 1974 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine along with Albert Claude and Christian de Duve. The prize was granted for his innovations in electron microscopy and cell fractionation which together laid the foundations of modern molecular cell biology, the most notable discovery being the ribosomes of the endoplasmic reticulum – which he first described in 1955.

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.

Richard Axel molecular biologist

Richard Axel is an American molecular biologist and university professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His work on the olfactory system won him and Linda Buck, a former postdoctoral research scientist in his group, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004.

Linda B. Buck American biologist

Linda Brown Buck is an American biologist best known for her work on the olfactory system. She was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with Richard Axel, for their work on olfactory receptors. She is currently on the faculty of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Joseph L. Goldstein scientist

Joseph Leonard Goldstein ForMemRS is an American biochemist. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985, along with fellow University of Texas researcher, Michael Brown, for their studies regarding cholesterol. They discovered that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that remove cholesterol from the blood and that when LDL receptors are not present in sufficient numbers, individuals develop hypercholesterolemia and become at risk for cholesterol related diseases, notably coronary heart disease. Their studies led to the development of statin drugs.

Jeffrey M. Friedman Physician scientist studying the genetic mechanisms that regulate body weight.

Jeffrey M. Friedman is a molecular geneticist at New York City's Rockefeller University and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His discovery of the hormone leptin and its role in regulating body weight has had a major role in the area of human obesity. Friedman is a physician scientist studying the genetic mechanisms that regulate body weight. His research on various aspects of obesity received national attention in late 1994, when it was announced that he and his colleagues had isolated the mouse ob gene and its human homologue. They subsequently found that injections of the encoded protein, leptin, decreases body weight of mice by reducing food intake and increasing energy expenditure. Current research is aimed at understanding the genetic basis of obesity in human and the mechanisms by which leptin transmits its weight-reducing signal.

Pearl Meister Greengard Prize

The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize is an award for women scientists in biology given annually by the Rockefeller University.

Ralph M. Steinman Canadian immunologist and cell biologist

Ralph Marvin Steinman was a Canadian physician and medical researcher at Rockefeller University, who in 1973 discovered and named dendritic cells while working as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Zanvil A. Cohn, also at Rockefeller University. Steinman was one of the recipients of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Brian Kobilka medical scientist

Brian Kent Kobilka is an American physiologist and a recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Lefkowitz for discoveries that reveal the workings of G protein-coupled receptors. He is currently a professor in the department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also a co-founder of ConfometRx, a biotechnology company focusing on G protein-coupled receptors. He was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.

Richard L. Huganir is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Director of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Director of the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Brain Science Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as well as an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has joint appointments in the Department of Biological Chemistry and the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Huganir is also a member of the Cure Alzheimer's Fund's Research Consortium.

Gerald Fischbach American physician and neuroscientist

Gerald D. Fischbach is an American neuroscientist. He received his M.D. from the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University in 1965 before beginning his research career at the National Institutes of Health in 1966, where his research focused on the mechanisms of neuromuscular junctions. After his tenure at the National Institutes of Health, Fischbach was a professor at Harvard University Medical School from 1972–1981 and 1990–1998 and the Washington University School of Medicine from 1981–1990. In 1998, he was named the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke before becoming the Vice President and Dean of the Health and Biomedical Sciences, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Columbia University from 2001–2006. Gerald Fischbach currently serves as the scientific director overseeing the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Throughout Fischbach's career, much of his research has focused on the formation and function of the neuromuscular junction, which stemmed from his innovative use of cell culture to study synaptic mechanisms.

Huda Zoghbi Lebanese scientist

Huda Yahya Zoghbi, born Huda El-Hibri, is a Lebanese-born American geneticist, and a professor at the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine. Her work helped elucidate mechanisms of Rett syndrome and spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. In 2017, she was awarded the Canada Gairdner International Award and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Thomas C. Südhof German biochemist

Thomas Christian Südhof, ForMemRS, is a German-American biochemist known for his study of synaptic transmission. Currently, he is a professor in the School of Medicine in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, and by courtesy in Neurology, and in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

James P. Allison American immunologist, Nobel Prize Laureate

James Patrick Allison is an American immunologist and Nobel laureate who holds the position of professor and chair of immunology and executive director of immunotherapy platform at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. His discoveries have led to new cancer treatments for the deadliest cancers. He is also the director of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) scientific advisory council. He has a longstanding interest in mechanisms of T-cell development and activation, the development of novel strategies for tumor immunotherapy, and is recognized as one of the first people to isolate the T-cell antigen receptor complex protein. In 2014, he was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; in 2018, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Tasuku Honjo.

King-Wai Yau American biophysicist

King-Wai Yau is a Chinese-born American neuroscientist and Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Michael W. Young American geneticist, cronobiologist

Michael Warren Young is an American biologist and geneticist. He has dedicated over three decades to research studying genetically controlled patterns of sleep and wakefulness within Drosophila melanogaster. During his time at Rockefeller University, his lab has made significant contributions in the field of chronobiology by identifying key genes associated with regulation of the internal clock responsible for circadian rhythms. He was able to elucidate the function of the period gene, which is necessary for the fly to exhibit normal sleep cycles. Young's lab is also attributed with the discovery of the timeless and doubletime genes, which makes proteins that are also necessary for circadian rhythm. He was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael Rosbash "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm".


  1. "Paul Greengard profile". Rockefeller University. Archived from the original on 2008-09-22. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  2. Dreifus, Claudia (September 26, 2006). "He Turned His Nobel Into a Prize for Women". The New York Times.
  3. Profile of Paul Greengard,; accessed December 28, 2013.
  5. "Pioneering neuroscientist and Nobel laureate Paul Greengard dies at 93" . Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  6. Clem Richardson (February 3, 2003). "A Nobel Patriarch 2000 Winner Head Of Talented Family". Daily News . Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  9. Betsy Hanson (December 17, 2004). "The Birth of an Award". Benchmarks. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  10. Dreifus, Claudia (September 26, 2006). "He Turned His Nobel Into a Prize for Women". New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2006.
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  13. "Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
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