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USC honors Nobel laureate Arvid Carlsson

Arvid Carlsson

Arvid Carlsson, a Nobel laureate known for his pioneering role in the birth of modern psychopharmacology, received a new wardrobe item at USC’s commencement ceremony on May 11—a doctoral hood.

Receiving the honor with Carlsson, professor emeritus of pharmacology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, were Ted Koppel, distinguished broadcast correspondent, bureau chief, anchor, editor and producer, Joyce Kennard, a three-time USC alumna and longtime jurist on the California Supreme Court, and actor Clint Eastwood.

Carlsson, co-recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, received a golden yellow-edged Doctor of Science hood from R. Pete Vanderveen, dean of the USC School of Pharmacy.

Carlsson has improved the lives of countless people around the world through his pivotal discovery of dopamine’s role in brain function and his exploration of pharmacological treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. His pioneering research into the influence of drugs on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin paved the way for the development of new therapies for people with Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression. These new treatments include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, that are used to treat depression.

Born in Sweden in 1923, Carlsson earned a medical degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Lund, where he went on to hold teaching positions in pharmacology.

From 1955-56, he conducted research in Bethesda, Md., as a visiting scientist in the Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology at the National Heart Institute. In 1959, he was named professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Gothenburg, where he served as chair from 1959 to 1976 and achieved emeritus status in 1989. He later joined with other collaborators to establish A. Carlsson Research Aktiebolag, a biotechnology company in Sweden that develops new drug treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Among his honors and awards are the Anna-Monika Stiftung First Prize, the Japan Prize in Psychology and Psychiatry, the Legion of Honour from the French government, the Research Prize of the Lundbeck Foundation in Denmark, the Wolf Prize in Medicine and the Lieber Prize from the Scientific Council of the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression.

A member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Carlsson is a foreign associate member of the Institute of Medicine and an honorary member of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg and other Swedish and foreign academies of sciences.

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