NIDA's Roger Brown Dies, Fostered Neuroscience Program
In the early 1980s, Brown was among the first to recognize the role of the dopamine system in the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse. This observation became a cornerstone of the neurobiological understanding of drug abuse. It opened the door to the wider concept of disturbed neurotransmission as a central mechanism of drug dependence and addiction.
Brown's involvement with neurotransmitters began in the early 1970s, when he worked in the Goteberg, Sweden, laboratory of Dr. Arvid Carlsson, who was to win a Nobel prize in 2000, in part for his pioneering work on dopamine. Subsequently, Brown joined the NIMH intramural research program and collaborated with Dr. Patricia Goldman-Rakic to measure the brain distribution of a class of chemical compounds that includes many of those now recognized as neurotransmitters. Their finding of markedly uneven distribution was a decisive early clue that different neurotransmitters serve different functions.
"In our lab, Roger was known for setting the gold standard for trustworthiness in word and deed," said Dr. Mortimer Mishkin, chief of NIMH's section on cognitive neuroscience. "Later, when he moved to NIDA, he was unfailingly generous with advice and assistance. We, and the field, have lost a champion."
Brown's preferred professional designation, "research neuropsychopharmacologist," reflected the breadth of his training and his drive for an integrated understanding of all aspects of drug responses chemistry, the brain and behavior. Adept at analyzing complex interactions among those factors, he could also bring a convoluted wrangle over the interpretation of a rodent study back to earth by amiably declaring, "What I want to know is, what's in it for the rat?"
As an administrator, Brown backed a wide variety of research approaches and was particularly receptive to proposals incorporating innovative techniques. Among the techniques whose promise he quickly grasped and encouraged were the use of microdialysis to measure the regional concentrations of neurotransmitters in the brain as indicators of the functional importance of brain chemicals, and the use of radioactive ligands to map neurotransmitter receptor sites in discrete brain areas.
Brown's first assignment at NIDA, in 1979, was to organize a neuroscience program at the institute. From 1983 to 2000, he was supervisory pharmacologist and chief of the Neuroscience Research Branch. In 2001, he was awarded the J. Michael Morrison Award of the College on Problems in Drug Dependence "for outstanding contributions in scientific administration relating to drugs of abuse."
Brown was a person with many interests. His fascination with Mayan culture led him to acquire property in Belize, where he looked forward to growing orchids and pursuing a longtime interest in herbal medicines in retirement.
One of his last contributions to NIDA was his strong advocacy of a room that he described as "a place for staff to go to learn about neuroscience" quiet place for concentration, away from phones and hassle of the office." When NIDA's Neuroscience Resource Room became a reality last year, Brown donated many books and journals from his private library.
NIDA will celebrate Brown's life and contributions on Sept. 18 with reminiscences by colleagues and dedication of the Roger Brown Memorial Library in the Neuroscience Resource Room. On May 14-15, 2003, NIDA will convene a symposium in Brown's honor. Investigators who conducted research with grants administered by Brown will speak about the programs and discoveries he helped nourish.
FIC Retiree Jones Mourned
Dr. Morris T. Jones, 85, who was head of the Special Foreign Currency Program at the Fogarty International Center when he retired in 1994, died of heart arrhythmia on Aug. 12 at his home in Bethesda.
He was born in St. Louis and reared in East St. Louis, Ill. Working through the Depression, he received a bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctorate in microbiology from the University of Illinois, Urbana. In the 1980's, he received certificates in surveying and welding from Montgomery College and in the 1990's he earned a certificate from Westminister County Guild of Blacksmiths.
In 1964, he embarked on his long career in the international arena. He began working at the Fogarty International Center and remained there for 30 years before retiring in 1994. He was a champion of international scientific cooperation and was instrumental in enabling NIH to support biomedical research in a number of countries using U.S.-owned excess local currencies.
He also managed NIH participation in programs between the U.S. and Poland, Hungary, Egypt, Israel, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia and later in Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. He was counselor to two generations of U.S. and foreign scientists. His colleagues in the U.S.-India Program attributed much of its success to his dedicated support and he was deemed by the science attaché at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi as the "personification of American goodwill and competence" and "an example of what is best about committed public service."
Jones was also scoutmaster of Troop 1319 in Bethesda for 27 years. During this time he graduated 25 Eagle Scouts. He was also a founding member of Bethesda United Church of Christ.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Elizabeth Ross Jones, two sons, a sister and four grandchildren.
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