Paul Greengard

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Paul Greengard (2009)

Paul Greengard (born December 11, 1925 in Queens , New York City , † April 13, 2019 in Manhattan , New York City) was an American biochemist , pharmacologist and neurobiologist . In 2000, together with Arvid Carlsson and Eric Kandel, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “their discoveries relating to signal transmission in the nervous system”.

Origin and private matters

Paul Greengard was the son of Benjamin Greengard, a former vaudeville artist who later got a job as sales manager for a perfume company, after which the family moved to the Forest Hills neighborhood . Paul's older sister was the actress , writer, and television presenter Irene Kane . Her mother Pearl Meister, a former secretary, died shortly after Paul's birth, and in early 1927 Benjamin Greengard remarried. From this marriage, Paul Greengard's half-sister Linda was around 12 years his junior. With the prize money from his Nobel Prize, he donated the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize for outstanding researchers in the field of biomedicine . On the one hand, the award is intended to counter discrimination against female research staff and, on the other hand, to remember his mother, whom he only found out about at the age of 20.

Greengard was married to the sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard . His two sons Leslie and Claude Greengard are mathematicians.

Scientific activity

Paul Greengard received his PhD in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 1953 in Baltimore , then worked in England (London and Cambridge) in the field of biochemistry and in 1959 went to the Geigy Research Laboratories in Greenburgh (Ardsley / New York). In 1968 he was appointed professor at Yale University , School of Medicine in New Haven , where he was professor of pharmacology and psychiatry . In 1983 he became a professor at Rockefeller University in New York, where he also took over the management of the Laboratory for Molecular Biology and Cellular Neuroscience . During his academic career, Greengard also researched and taught at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Vanderbilt University .

Greengard primarily researched the transmission of signals between the nerve cells in the brain in order to investigate the specific transmission through intercellular signal substances . In doing so, he mainly explained the transmission at the so-called slow synapses , which determine the basic functions of the central nervous system such as moods or alertness . He discovered that the signaling substance dopamine triggers a cascade of reactions inside the nerve cell, which in addition to the modification of various cellular proteins also leads to the opening of ion channels . The ions that penetrate through this reverse the electrical charge of the cell, which triggers action potentials .

The knowledge about signal transmission and the effect of signal substances are particularly important for the use of drugs. Above all, the mode of action of psychotropic drugs , for example against schizophrenia , can be better understood and investigated.

Awards (selection)

Honors and memberships (selection)


Web links

Commons : Paul Greengard  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Harrison Smith: Paul Greengard, Nobel laureate who showed how nerve cells communicate, dies at 93. In: The Washington Post , April 15, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  2. ^ Paul Vitello: Chris Chase, Actress Who Turned to Writing, Dies. In: The New York Times . November 5, 2013, accessed on August 26, 2020 (obituary; English).
  3. Paul Greengard's profile on the New York Academy of Sciences website , accessed August 26, 2020
  4. ^ A b Claudia Dreifus: He Turned His Nobel Into a Prize for Women. In: The New York Times . September 26, 2006, accessed on August 26, 2020 (Interview with Paul Greengard; English).
  5. ^ Paul Greengard in the 1940 census, accessed August 26, 2020
  6. ^ Gisela Baumgart: Greengard, Paul. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 509.