Lecture celebrates acclaimed neuroscientist

A University of Aberdeen scientist who discovered endorphins – the body’s own pain killers – will be celebrated next week.

The institution will host its annual Hans Kosterlitz lecture, in recognition of the academic who found that the brain produces morphine-like chemicals that help us feel pleasure and fight pain.

Internationally renowned neuroscientist, Professor Jack McMahan from Texas A&M University, will present the lecture on Wednesday September 4.

Professor McMahan’s groundbreaking early work led to the discovery of ‘agrin’ - the prototypical signalling molecule that orchestrates the formation and function of new and regenerating nerve contacts.

He is now pioneering the development of new 3D imaging techniques to visualise the molecular architecture of nerve contacts in situ and at nanometer resolution, giving us superb insights into how nerve contacts are built.

The lecture takes place in the Suttie Lecture Theatre at 3pm and is free to attend.

Dr Kosterlitz was in his 70s when he and his colleague John Hughes found that naturally occurring endorphins affect how we feel pleasure and fight pain.

Widespread acclaim and plaudits followed for the scientist who joined the University of Aberdeen in 1933 and led opiate research until he was approaching his 90s.

Dr Guy Bewick from the University’s School of Medical Sciences said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor McMahan to the institution to deliver what will be the sixth Hans Kosterlitz lecture.

“His early work in the 1970s gave us the first insights into how nerves and targets know where to make their contact structures. Now, four decades later, he is visualising the individual molecules building these sites. This long track record of high quality science coupled with his great enthusiasm for biology, and his gift for effectively engaging with his audience, make Professor McMahan a perfect candidate to deliver the 2013 Kosterlitz Lecture."