Ceremonial Lecture in the frame of the Opening Ceremony
Salomon Langer, Israel
Sunday, 3 June 2012, 18.00 h Ceremonial Lecture in the frame of the Opening Ceremony, Victoria Hall
Presynaptic receptors: a challenge for innovative drug discovery in psychopharmacology
Dr. Salomon Z. Langer was born in 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1960 he graduated from the School of Medicine of Buenos Aires University, obtaining the “Gold Medal Award” awarded to the best student of his class. Starting in 1963, with a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship he joined the Department of Pharmacology at Harvard University until the end of 1966, working on the mechanisms involving denervation supersensitivity (Ullrich Trendelenburg). He spent two years (1967-1969) in Cambridge, England, (Leslie Iversen) and at the Institute of Animal Physiology (Marthe Vogt) where he worked on noradrenaline (NA) uptake, release elicited by nerve stimulation and the metabolic fate of the released neurotransmitter.
In 1969, Dr. Langer returned to Argentina where he was appointed Director of the Institute for Pharmacological Research (created in 1968, CONICET: National Research Council of Argentina).
The work carried out at the Institute in Buenos Aires during the period 1969-1976 led to the discovery of the presynaptic inhibitory α-adrenoceptors on noradrenergic nerve terminals and of their role in the modulation of the NA release during nerve stimulation. In 1974, Dr. Langer characterized the pharmacological differences between α1-adrenoceptors and α2-adrenoceptors (establishing that the latter corresponded to the presynaptic receptors).
During the years 1975-1976, Dr. Langer provided the first extensive and rigourous evidence “in vitro” and “in vivo” of cotransmission (NA and ATP) in the cat’s nictitating membrane.
In June 1976, Dr. Langer became Head of the Department of Pharmacology at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Beckenham, Kent, U.K. In 1977, Dr. Langer was appointed Director of Biology at Synthélabo Research in Paris where he was later appointed Research Director and Vice-President. In 1977 Synthelabo was number 81 in the world ranking of Pharmaceuticals. Today through growth and merger, it has become Sanofi-Aventis, number 4 in the ranking world wide.
The research team directed by Dr. Langer discovered in 1979 and 1980 a specific, high-affinity binding site labeled with for 3H-imipramine and later with 3H-paroxetine, which is associated with the serotonin transporter in the brain and in blood platelets of various species including man 3H-paroxetine binding was subsequently used as a marker in the purification of the serotonin transporter for cloning and expression.
During the 23 years at Synthélabo Dr. Langer discovered and developed five compounds which are now in the market: diltiazem (for angina) called Tildiem; betaxolol (for hypertension and also for glaucoma) called Kerlone and Betoptic respectively; alfusozine (for benign hypertrophy of the prostate) call Xatral; zolpidem (for insomnia) called Stilnox in Europe and Ambien in the US, and mizolastine (for allergic diseases).
From 1999 to 2007, Dr. Langer was Senior Vice-President for Drug Discovery at Compugen, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Since 2004, Dr. Langer is cofounder and Vice President of Research of Alpha-2 Pharmaceutica AB, registered in Sweden. In 2007, Dr. Langer founded the drug discovery company in Israel, named Euthymia Ltd. (Tel-Aviv, Israel).
Among other honors and awards, Dr. Langer was awarded in 1962 a Rockefeller Foundation
Fellowship and in 1976 a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in cardiovascular pharmacology. In 1977, he received in London the Gaddum Memorial Lecture Award From the British Pharnacological Society. The lecture was entitled “Presynaptic receptors and their role in the regulation of transmitter release”.
In 1980, he delivered the G.E. Brown Memorial Lecture of the American Heart Association. In 1981, he received the First International Prize of the Anna-Monika Foundation (Dortmund, West Germany) for research in the field of endogenous depression. In 1983, Dr. Langer delivered the Fred Schueler distinguished lecture in New Orleans, at Tulane University. In 1991, Dr. Langer received the Otto Krayer Award in Pharmacology, presented by (ASPET) American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Also in 1991, Dr. Langer was the recipient of the Ciba Award in Hypertension, given by the Council for High Blood Pressure Research of the American Heart Association. In 1993, Dr. Langer was the recipient of the Eli Lilly Award of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP).
In 1999 Dr. Langer was awarded the Lieber Prize in Schizophrenia presented by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), USA and in 2000 he received the ASPET Award of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. In 2002, Dr. Langer received the Julius Axelrod Award Medal for research in the field of Catecholamines. In 2009, Dr. Langer delivered the Mark Nickerson Memorial lecture at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In 2010 Dr. Langer was elected by ASPET to deliver the inaugural Normal Weiner Memorial Award Lecture in Denver, University of Colorado. In 2010 Dr. Langer received in Hong Kong the Award Pioneers in Psychopharmacology from the CINP (International College of Neuropsychopharmacology).
Dr. Langer is among the highly cited researchers in Pharmacology (period 1981-1999): ISIHighlyCited.com
Between 1989-1992 Dr. Langer was President of the ECNP and he served as Vice-President of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP), from 1992 to 1998 and was member of the Executive Committee of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSPB), from 1991 to 1997.
For the period 2002 to 2006 Dr. Langer was the Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee of IUPHAR (International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology) and for the period of 2006 to 2010 First Vice President of IUPHAR.
He is editor of several books and member of the editorial boards of several scientific journals.
Dr. Langer has published more than 450 scientific articles.