Noxious little molecule is key to a healthy body and mind
On Tuesday, April 17, as part of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics Seminar Series 2000-2001, the renowned medical researcher Dr Salvador Moncada will give a public lecture on nitric oxide -- the noxious little molecule that is key to a healthy body and mind. Dr Moncada's visit to McGill is sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
Renowned medical researcher to give lecture at McGill University
Nitric oxide and cell respiration: Physiology and pathophysiology, by Dr Salvador Moncada
Tuesday, April 17, 2001, 4:00 p.m.
5th Floor, McIntyre Medical Building
3655 Promenade Sir William Osler
When the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded in 1998 to three scientists, many people were shocked that Salvador Moncada was not one of them. After all, it was he who had been a leader in the revolution in our understanding of fundamental human physiology for which the prize was given. The revolution in question was truly dramatic. Nitric oxide (NO), an exceedingly simple molecule consisting of the two most common elements in air, was a well-known pollutant, one of the principal toxic emissions of automobile engines. Until 1987, nobody had the slightest idea that it plays an essential role in a huge array of healthy physiological processes. It was then that Salvador Moncada announced that blood vessels actually make nitric oxide and that he had determined how they did it. He confirmed that nitric oxide is the agent that causes blood vessels to relax and thereby regulates blood pressure.
Research and discoveries in the area of nitric oxide action have since undergone phenomenal expansion, to which Dr Moncada has made substantial contributions, becoming the most cited UK researcher in biomedicine in recent years. In addition to its function in regulating blood pressure, scientists have found that it is nitric oxide that enables penile erections (Viagra works by providing the molecule in the right location), it is nitric oxide that the immune systems microphages produce to kill invading microbes, and it is nitric oxide that is used by the brain as a primary neuron signal transmitter, and so is directly implicated in memory formation. On the other hand, it appears that nitric oxide is also intimately linked to a number of diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, drug addiction, kidney disease, stroke, memory and learning disorders, septic shock, sunburn, anorexia and tuberculosis.
"Dr Salvador Moncada has made fundamental and pioneering contributions in medicine with the identification of nitric oxide as an important modulator of the activity of blood vessels and neurons. His investigations have opened up new entire fields of research and therapeutics. We are very pleased that he is coming to speak at McGill," said Dr Claudio Cuello, former chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, which is organizing the lecture.
Salvador Moncada was born in Honduras in 1944. He graduated in Medicine at the University of El Salvador in 1970 and with a PhD in Pharmacology at the University of London in 1973. After several years of teaching and research in Honduras and England he became, in 1986, Director of Research of the Wellcome Research Laboratories. Since 1995 he has been Director of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research of the University College London.
Dr Moncadas lecture is sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and is hosted by the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at McGill University, Montreal, as part of its Seminar Series 2000-2001. For further information about the series, please visit the department web site or contact accuello [at] pharma [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Dr Claudio Cuello) at 514-398-3621.