Karolinska Institutet professor earns 2011 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award

Fredholm earned the award for his pioneering work on brain adenosine and the actions of caffeine

This year's ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award in Basic Science Research has been conferred upon Bertil Fredholm at the 24th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) on 3-7 September 2011 in Paris, France.

The ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award, which is accompanied by a prize of - 20,000, recognises distinguished research in neuropsychopharmacology and closely related disciplines.

Bertil Fredholm, professor of pharmacology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, earned the award for his pioneering work on the brain adenosine system.

Professor Fredholm's research on adenosine and its receptors has significantly contributed to the current understanding of CNS mechanisms in health and disease. In addition to peripheral actions in the body, adenosine acts in the brain to regulate sleep-wakefulness, food intake, and body temperature. "Many drugs targeting adenosine receptors are in clinical trials, but the established therapeutic use is still very limited", Fredholm said at the 24th ECNP Congress in Paris, France. "I am full of hope that the adenosine system represents a promising field for pharmacological innovations." Examples of the role of adenosine receptors in neuropathology involve Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, trauma, ischaemia, neuroinflammatory and neuropsychiatric disorders as well as neuropathic pain.

A starting point for Fredholm's research work was his insight that caffeine, the most widely used psychoactive drug, is an adenosine receptor antagonist that promotes wakefulness by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. Fredholm's most recent studies indicate, among others, that the effect is due to blockade of the A(2A) subtype in a small region of the basal ganglia. Furthermore he and his colleagues show that adenosine deficiency may be relevant to epilepsy and that a ketogenic diet - a high-fat, low-carbohydrate metabolic regimen effective in the treatment of refractory epilepsy - can reduce seizures by increasing adenosine (A1) receptor-mediated inhibition. In research that now spans more than 30 years, Fredholm emphasises that part of translational approach, which uses basic science to clarify the causes of clinical observations.

Professor Fredholm started his career as a medical doctor in 1970, subsequently specialising in pharmacology at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and acquiring postdoctoral experience in laboratories all over the world, including San Diego, Denver, Dallas, Buenos Aires and Kobe (Japan). He holds numerous academy memberships and honours as well as memberships in editorial and scientific advisory boards. As a highly cited scientist, his original studies comprise more than 500 papers in peer-reviewed primary science journals. Fredholm was member and chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee in Sweden for several years.

Speaking on behalf of the ECNP Award Committee, Julien Mendlewicz, Belgium, said, "Bertil Fredholm's leadership in the field and outstanding research achievements, based on broad knowledge and outstanding scientific intelligence, make him the ideal candidate for the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award."

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