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Paul Greengard

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize

Paul Greengard: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Recipient-2000
by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Paul Greengard is an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2000, which he shared with Arvid Carisson and Eric R. Kandel for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system.

Greengard was born on December 11, 1925, in New York City, under tragic circumstances. His mother, nee Pearl Meister, who was Jewish, died giving birth to Paul. His father remarried when he was thirteen months old. His stepmother was an Episcopalian and she brought him up in the Christian tradition of celebrating their holidays. He was kept apart from his mother’s family until recently, when he learned about them. He then established a relationship with them

When he received the Nobel Prize money of more than $400,000, he established the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize to honor his motherand to recognize women who have been outstanding in the sciences and were neglected without recognition. The annual prize is an award of $50,000 given to the recipient.

Paul Greengard is a product of the New York City educational system. In World War II, he spent three years in the Navy as an electronics technician. He was specially trained and was assigned to a team, in The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to develop an early warning system to intercept the Japanese kamikaze planes before they could reach their American targets.

After the war, he enrolled in the Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York. He graduated with a B.S. Degree in mathematics and physics. He became interested in biophysics because physics was being focused on nuclear weapons. He attended Johns Hopkins University and received his Ph.D. in biophysics in 1953.

He did his postdoctoral work at the University of London, Cambridge University and the University of Amsterdam. As a professor, he has worked at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Yale University and the Rockefeller University, where he was when Greengard received the announcement that he was selected for the Nobel Prize.

Awards and honors:

• Elected a member of the U.S. Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine
• Elected a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences
• Elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
• Elected a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and letters
• Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievements in Health, which he shared with Eric Kandel, 1997
• The Metropolitan Life Foundation Award for Medical Research, 1998
• Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award, 1990

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