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Vol. LVIII, No. 20
October 6, 2006

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  Dr. Jörgen Fex  
  Dr. Jörgen Fex  
Former NIDCD Scientist Fex Mourned

Dr. Jörgen Fex, 82, died Aug. 15 in Kensington. He was a former laboratory chief and acting scientific director at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

"Jörgen Fex was a pioneer in hearing and deafness research. He explored the underlying biochemical processes in the neurotransmission systems of the inner ear and understood the future promise of molecular genetics in human deafness," said NIDCD director Dr. James Battey, Jr.

Fex was NIDCD's acting scientific director during its formative years and was instrumental in developing many program initiatives, especially those related to the molecular genetics of hearing. As a scientific mentor he fostered creativity and excellence among his junior colleagues. Several of his former research fellows are currently active in the fields of neurotransmission and the biology of the inner ear and are leaders in the hearing research community.

Fex was born in Stockholm and received his undergraduate degrees from Uppsala and Stockholm universities and his medical degree from the University of Lund in 1952. From 1952 to 1956, he practiced medicine in Lund with specialties in neurology and electromyography and soon thereafter shifted his focus to basic research. From 1956 to 1962, he studied at the Nobel Institute for Neurophysiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where, under the mentorship of Nobel laureate Ragnar Granit, he received his doctorate in neurophysiology. From 1962 to 1964, he was docent professor at the Karolinska Institute.

At the request of Nobel laureate Sir John Eccles, Fex moved to Canberra, Australia, to become a senior research fellow at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. Two years later, he joined NIH as a visiting scientist working with Ichiji Tasaki, chief of NIMH's Laboratory of Neurobiology at the time. After a brief period in which he served as professor of anatomy and physiology at Indiana University, Fex returned to NIH, where he formed and led a team of international colleagues as chief of the Laboratory of Otolaryngology at NINDS. Later, he joined NIDCD when it was established in 1988.

Fex was knowledgeable in many areas of science and medicine and was an avid reader of history, philosophy and literature in several languages including Swedish, Italian, French and German. While pure research was his passion, he also focused on his fellow man. One of his proudest accomplishments was when, while still in the clinical field, he liberated patients who had been incorrectly diagnosed and institutionalized for mental illnesses they did not have.

Fex retired at 76 but stayed busy by enjoying literature, music, tennis and assisting colleagues with editing scientific papers.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Harriet Fex, their three children, and a brother.


  NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow receives the 2006 Star of Science Award from last year's winner, Dr. Bennett Leventhal.
  NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow receives the 2006 Star of Science Award from last year's winner, Dr. Bennett Leventhal.
NIDA's Volkow Receives 2006 Star Of Science Award

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, received the Star of Science Award from the Children's Brain Research Foundation (CBRF) on Aug. 30 in Chicago. The award recognizes her outstanding achievements as an international leader in drug addiction research and brain imaging and her research demonstrating that drug addiction is a brain disease that affects behavior.

The Star of Science Award-presented annually by CBRF-honors a scientist whose work in brain and nervous system research helps to enhance the lives of children and their families.

CBRF acknowledged Volkow's pioneering use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs in the human brain and how they lead to addiction. The foundation also noted her important contributions to the connections between obesity and the brain, the brain changes that occur as humans age and the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Volkow's studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting the actions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive and pleasure and the decline of brain dopamine function with age.

As NIDA director since 2003, Volkow has made it a priority of the institute to reduce drug abuse and addiction and improve the nation's prevention and treatment interventions. By determining the genetic and environmental factors that make some individuals-including children and adolescents-more vulnerable to drugs of abuse than others, new strategies can be developed for improved prevention, early detection and treatment models.


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