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Honoring Dr. Edson Albuquerque and his 36 years as chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

Monday, January 27, 2011

Edson Albuquerque, MD, PhD

He has been called the iron man of Pharmacology. After 36 years at the helm, Edson Albuquerque, M.D., Ph.D. has stepped down as chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, but he will continue his work as a professor of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. On January 27, a reception was held in Dr. Albuquerque’s honor. It was an opportunity for his colleagues and contemporaries to celebrate his enormous achievements.

 “Dr. Albuquerque has distinguished himself as a scientist, a scholar, a mentor, and faculty leader, said Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.  “His research has proven to be truly groundbreaking.”Soon after his arrival, Dr. Albuquerque established his laboratory for electrophysiological studies of synaptic transmission.  His work led to the first determination of density and distribution of nicotinic receptors in skeletal muscle, and he was the first to demonstrate that Myasthenia Gravis is related to a marked decrease in the number of functional synaptic nicotinic receptors at the neuromuscular junction.

Dr. Albuquerque’s work elucidated the actions of neurotoxins on a variety of neurotransmitters and receptors in the central nervous system.  This research had important implications for ALS and other diseases involving sodium channel function.  His studies of nicotinic receptor antagonists led to the discovery of a distinct subtype of nicotinic receptor in the brain.  “Dr. Albuquerque’s research shed new light on the neural circuitry of the hippocampus and the mechanisms of both endogenous and exogenous regulatory molecules,” said Margaret McCarthy, PhD, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Acting Chair, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.  This work has important implications for schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

“Dr. Albuquerque has the ability to recognize how his research might be related to a wide range of problems,” said Kenneth Kellar, Ph.D., of the Georgetown University School of Medicine, and one of the many who paid tribute to Dr. Albuquerque at the reception. “He displays high energy, clear focus and a determination to identify and solve important scientific problems.”

Also speaking at the reception was Solomon Snyder, M.D., of the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “Edson's approach to science, underlying his success, is his love for free inquiry and his passion for getting to the bottom of complex problems,” said Dr. Snyder. “These attributes propelled him to keep moving forward year after year to newer questions which he solves with elegance.”

During Dr. Albuquerque’s long tenure, the department grew to 32 full-time and secondary faculty members who oversee 20 graduate students and 19 post-doctoral fellows. Today, the department is recognized internationally for its research excellence and for its high level of funding.Mark Simard, MD, PhD, professor of Neurosurgery, collaborated often with Dr. Albuquerque. As Dr. Simard points out, the word Albuquerque is taken to mean "white oak," a tree that can live hundreds of years. "In my view,” said Dr. Simard, “Edson has fully lived up to his family name – exhibiting the strength, durability and longevity of a white oak, as he ascended within the international community of pharmacology.”

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group photo
 (L-R) Dr. Mordecai Blaustein, Dean Reece, Dr. Edson Albuquerque, Dr. Robert Schwartz, Dr. Kenneth Kellar

Edson Albuquerque
 (L-R) Dr. Curt Civin, Dr. Edson Albuquerque

 (L-R) Dean Reece, Dr. Edson Albuquerque

with Perman.jpg
 (L-R) Dr. Edson Albuquerque and UMB President Dr. Jay Perman

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