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Julius Axelrod. 30 May 1912 — 29 December 2004

Leslie Iversen

Elected ForMemRS 1979


Julie Axelrod was a laboratory technician until the age of 42 years, when he finally achieved his PhD and independence. He worked at the National Institutes of Health for most of his career. Among his early pioneering research achievements in applying chemical and biochemical approaches to neuroscience were the discoveries of the painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol, Paracetamol) and the liver microsomal drug–metabolizing enzymes, and the establishment of catechol–O–methyltransferase as an important enzyme in catecholamine metabolism. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1970 for his discovery that the reuptake of noradrenaline (norepinephrine) into the nerve endings from which it was released represented a novel method of neurotransmitter inactivation. An important corollary was the finding that antidepressant drugs acted as inhibitors of this uptake process.