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NIH Celebrates Daly, Roots of Chemistry

"Roots of Chemistry at NIH," a symposium dedicated to Dr. John W. Daly, former chief of NIDDK's Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry, begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 21 in Natcher Conference Center with "John Daly: Chemist in a Biological Environment," by Dr. Phil Skolnick of Eli Lilly and Co.

On June 22, "Ion Channels and Disease," will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Speakers will discuss: Specific Ligands Isolated from Amphibians: Natural Products and the Remarkable Contribution of John Daly to the Study of Chemosensitive Receptors and Excitable Membranes; Batrachotoxin, Ion Channels, and Epilepsy; The NIH Shift and Arene Oxides; The Recent Years, Alkaloid Sources and Activities; and Mechanism-Based Treatment of CNS Disorders.

The afternoon session, "Receptors and Second Messengers," will run from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Topics include: Novel Adenylyl Cyclases and Novel Functions; Forskolin, A Prototype for Design of Drugs Which Moderate Adenylate Cyclase; Purine Receptor-Based Therapeutic Concepts; Sphingosine Kinase-Mediated Signaling; Biogenic Amines as Fluorinated Probes for Receptors; and Signal Transduction Mechanisms Elicited by Lipopolysaccharide in Mammalian Cells.

For 40 years, Daly has studied the molecular basis for the biological activity of hormones, drugs and natural products. He is particularly well known for his explorations of the Central and South American rain forests to find poisonous neotropical frogs whose skin is filled with biologically active compounds.

His work has led to the isolation of 400 new alkaloids that divide into more than 20 structural classes. One of these alkaloids, epibatidine, is 200 times more effective than morphine. Recently, researchers at Abbott Laboratories found an experimental drug with a chemical structure similar to epibatidine. A new painkiller is now in early human safety testing in Europe.

Daly served as chief of the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry from 1978 to 1997. It is one of the oldest laboratories at NIH, dating back to 1905. Initially, it was called the Division of Chemistry of the Hygienic Laboratory of the U.S. Public Health and Marine Hospital Service. It was the only governmental agency where public health problems requiring expertise in chemistry could be referred. Since 1920, the chiefs of the lab have continuously been recognized by the National Academy of Sciences.

"Roots of Chemistry" will honor Daly on his 65th birthday. All are welcome to attend. For more information or to register call Tracy Morgan, (301) 493-9674.

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