Axelrod, Julius ăk´səlrŏd [key], 1912–2004, American biochemist whose work was influential in the development of pharmaceuticals, b. New York City, grad. City College, N.Y. (B.S. 1933), New York Univ. (M.S. 1941), George Washington Univ. (Ph.D. 1955). Axelrod spent much of his career at the National Institutes of Health (1949–84), where from 1955 to 1984 he was chief of the Section on Pharmacology, Laboratory of Science, at the National Institute of Mental Health. Along with Bernard Katz and Ulf von Euler, Axelrod was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for work on neurotransmitters. During the late 1950s and early 1960s Axelrod's investigations into the role of norepinephrine in brain chemistry led to an understanding of how neurotransmitters work and how their levels are regulated. This research made possible the development of the antidepressants and antianxiety drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In the 1940s Axelrod helped identify the analgesic properties of acetaminophen, and in the 1960s he explained the nature of melatonin and the role of it and the pineal gland played in regulating biological rhythms (see rhythm, biological).
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