History of Medicine
 
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Professor Salvador Moncada

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From 1975 to 1995, Professor Moncada worked at the Wellcome Research Laboratories, first as Head of Prostaglandin Research and then as Director of Research. He described the structure of prostacyclin, which acts as an effective vasodilator and also prevents blood platelets from clumping. In 1980 came the discovery by Robert Furchgott of ‘endothelium-derived relaxing factor’ (EDRF) which causes smooth muscle in the vessel walls to relax. Moncada and his team showed that EDRF was, in fact, Nitric oxide, which has since become appreciated as a neurotransmitter, a modulator of inflammation and a sensor of cellular distress as well as a regulator of vessel tone. Nitric oxide is both the target and effector of a range of compounds now being used for the treatment of cardiovascular and rheumatic diseases. Professor Moncada was appointed Director of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College in 1995. He has won numerous awards from the international scientific community including a Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award, the Prince of Asturias Scientific and Technological Research Award and the Dr AH Heineken Prize for Medicine from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science.

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