Edson X. Albuquerque, MD, PhD
Dr. Albuquerque, who was Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, had been longtime Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at UMSOM. Most recently he served as Division Head, Translational Toxicology in the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health. He was known to those who worked with him as a preeminent scientist, colleague, friend, and someone who will be greatly missed in and outside the UMSOM. He is survived by his wife, Edna F. R. Pereira, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health at UMSOM, and his children, Felipe, Maria Luiza, and Eric. Throughout his distinguished academic career, Dr. Albuquerque studied the effects of different toxicants, including lead and organophosphorus compounds, nerve agents and insecticides, on neuronal functions in vitro and in vivo. He researched nicotinic and glutamatergic synapses in the central nervous system, which are known to be involved in cognition, learning, and memory, as well as several pathological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.
Dr. Albuquerque’s research laid the groundwork for the development of a new class of drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease – the so-called “nicotinic allosteric potentiating ligands, of which galantamine is the prototype. Research in his laboratory has aided in the development of treatments for neuropathological conditions that afflict millions of people worldwide.
Dr. Albuquerque had received international recognition for his electrophysiological research on neurotransmitter receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems, including the Order of the Grand Cross and the Rio Branco Award from Brazil, and in the United States, from the NIH the prestigious Jacob Javits Award Neuroscience Research Award and the Otto Krayer Award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
In 1974, Dr. Albuquerque accepted the post of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at UMSOM. He established his laboratory for electrophysiological studies of synaptic transmission and developed the department, which grew from an anonymous department of cell biology to one that is internationally recognized for its excellence and bringing in a very high level of research funding. Prior to joining UMSOM, in 1968, Dr. Albuquerque was offered an Honor Position as a Buswell Fellow at the University of Buffalo. There he established his own laboratory, developed a number of fundamental studies in the field of neuromuscular transmission, and discovered the properties of many toxins which are used as tools for the characterization of the function of nicotinic receptors in the neuromuscular junction.
Dr. Albuquerque was born in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. He earned his medical degree from the Federal University of Pernambuco School of Medicine in 1959, and earned his Ph.D. degree summa cum laude in Physiology and Pharmacology from “Escola Paulista de Medicina” in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1962. Postdoctoral studies followed at Tulane University, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, at the University of Illinois.