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Earl Sutherland, ca. 1960s

Courtesy of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Earl Wilbur Sutherland Jr. (November 19, 1915 – March 9, 1974) was an American pharmacologist and biochemist. In 1971, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discoveries concerning “the mechanisms of the action of hormones”.

" He was a very profound man, very quiet, terrible teacher, almost inarticulate, but extremely brilliant guy, a great thinker. And in fact that work there kind of set the foundation for my work in the sense that it occurred to me - another group, headed by Edwin Krebs, had shown how the cyclic AMP worked on one particular - on this enzyme that caused the breakdown of glycogen to glucose. And I remember the thought occurring to me one day that maybe the way that there hormone worked - they get released from one organ, travel through the blood over a couple of meters to a target organ where they do their thing - and I was listening to a lecture at an international congress, and it occurred to me, is possible that neurotransmitters do the same thing? In other words, that the communication between - neurotransmitters released from a descending cell are detected by the receiving cell and things happen in the receiving cell - and I wondered whether the story that had been shown for cyclic AMP in mediating signaling between organs in different parts of the body - might work over this infinitesimal distance. And it turned out that was correct. But I thought of that listening to a lecture about glycogen breakdown in the liver. That was, in a way, if there's one single thought I had that caused the foundation of my work, my later work, that was it." - Paul Greengard, Oral History


Earl sutherland, Paul Greengard, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, exhibit


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