World leading scientist to deliver 2015 Kosterlitz lecture

World leading scientist to deliver 2015 Kosterlitz lecture

An annual lecture which celebrates a University of Aberdeen scientist who discovered endorphins will be held next week.

The institution will host its annual Hans Kosterlitz lecture on Thursday, April 16, in recognition of the academic who found that the brain produces these morphine-like chemicals that help us feel pleasure and fight pain.

Internationally renowned scientist, Professor Tom Jessell from Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, will present the lecture in the Suttie Centre lecture theatre at 4pm. The lecture is open to all and is free to attend.

Professor Jessell’s research explores how neural circuits are constructed in the vertebrate central nervous system, and how the organization of these circuits control behaviour.

He is currently collaborating with Dr Guy Bewick from the University of Aberdeen on research which has recently seen the team take a step closer towards understanding the nerve endings which report touch and movement to the brain – which could potentially be a powerful new drug target and save many lives in the future.

His lecture will explore his group’s latest findings on neural circuit connectivity early in spinal cord development, the process which ensures that the accurate co-ordinated movements necessary for normal life are possible.

Dr Guy Bewick from the University’s Institute of Medical Sciences said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Jessell to the institution to deliver the eighth annual Hans Kosterlitz lecture.

“Professor Jessell’s early research worked on the natural painkillers discovered by Prof Kosterlitz. He therefore feels a very direct scientific connection to science in Aberdeen and is a very appropriate choice to deliver this year’s lecture.

“As a world-leading scientist, a multi-award winner with over 200 publications and co-author of a widely adopted teaching textbook, Professor Jessell is an excellent communicator. I am sure the lecture will be incredibly insightful and interesting. It is fantastic that he is coming to share his knowledge and experiences personally with us here in Aberdeen.”

Prof Kosterlitz was in his 70s when he and his colleague John Hughes found the naturally occurring endorphins. 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.