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Tamas Bartfai Named to Head Harold L. Dorris Neurological Research Center at The Scripps Research Institute

La Jolla, CA. November 19, 1999 Noted neuroscientist Tamas Bartfai, Ph.D., has been named director of the newly established Harold L. Dorris Neurological Research Center at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). In addition, he will hold the Harold L. Dorris Chair in Neuroscience. The center was formed with a $10 million commitment from Helen L. Dorris of San Diego.

Bartfai is former head of central nervous system research at Hoffman-La Roche, in Basel, Switzerland. Most of his professional career was spent in academia at Stockholm University, most recently as Chairman, Department of Neurochemistry and Neurotoxicity. Born in Budapest, Hungary, he received his undergraduate education there at Eotvos Lorand University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Stockholm University. He has served as a visiting scientist at Hadassah- Hebrew University Medical School, Jerusalem; Yale University Medical School; and the Neuropsychiatric Institute at University of California, Los Angeles. Bartfai holds adjunct appointments at The Rockefeller University and Stanford University.

According to William H. Beers, Ph.D., TSRI Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, "We look forward to the leadership that Dr. Bartfai will bring to this newly created research center at TSRI. He is internationally recognized for his accomplishments in the neurosciences and his broad range of interests across a number of disciplines within the field."

Bartfai's work has been directed toward several scientific topics during his 27-year career in the field of physiological chemistry. Most notably, he has made contributions in the fields of the molecular/ biochemical basis of cognition, and the molecular/biochemical basis of fever. His work has implications for such diseases as depression, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and sleep disorders. Involved in the development of psychopharmaceutical agents for the last 20 years, he developed Zimelidine, the first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and two anti-psychotic agents used in the treatment of schizophrenia.

Recently, he has elucidated the molecular mechanism of a new kind of antidepressant, substance P antagonist, which modifies a previously untapped neurochemical system. This finding may lead to the development of new and more effective drug targets against depression, as well as anxiety disorders and schizophrenia. His work on the design, synthesis and biochemical and pharmacological application of the first galanin antagonists was essential for the elucidation of the biological effects of galanin in depression, cognition and pain, and led to the three galanin receptors becoming the target of more than 20 projects in the pharmaceutical industry.

The author of some 260 scientific publications, Bartfai is the recipient of numerous prestigious research awards, including the Eotvos Prize in Chemistry, the Svedberg Prize and the Eriksson Prize. In addition, he has been named a Senior Fullbright Fellow as well as a Fellow of The Neuroscience Institute.

The new center will bring a dedicated effort to providing education and conducting research into neurological disorders, including schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as advancing knowledge of the process of aging of the brain. Newly recruited scientists will join in an interdisciplinary focus on the brain, expanding ongoing research currently conducted in TSRI's Departments of Neurobiology, Neuropharmacology, Chemistry and Molecular Biology.

Photo available upon request.


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