Edelman, Gerald Maurice

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EDELMAN, GERALD MAURICE

EDELMAN, GERALD MAURICE (1929– ), U.S. biochemist and immunologist, Nobel Prize laureate. Edelman was born in New York. He originally studied as a violinist but turned to biochemistry and received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954 and his doctorate from the Rockefeller University in 1960, where he was appointed associate professor of biochemistry, and associate dean of graduate studies in 1963. One of the leading immunologists in the United States, he devoted himself to research in the elucidation of the structure of antibody molecules and established the complete chemical structure of gamma globulin, which defends the body against foreign bodies and disease. In 1977 Edelman and his colleagues discovered cell adhesion molecules. Subsequently he turned his attention to neuroscience, becoming director of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California. He has proposed a global brain theory called Neural Darwinism, which provides the basis for understanding the origin of consciousness. Edelman is a member of numerous scientific bodies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Chemical Society. In 1972 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology together with Dr. Rodney Porter.