January 14 – Happy Birthday, Derek Richter

Posted on January 14, 2016

Today's featured birthday is one of the founders of the science of brain chemistry.

Actually, as I was reading about Richter, I decided he was a pioneer in several ways.

Born in Bath, England, on this date in 1907, Derek Richter went to university at Oxford and worked with Nobel-Prize-winner Heinrich Wieland at Munich University in Germany (this was before Hitler and World War II). 

He later worked alongside other Nobel laureates at the University of Cambridge.

London was an intense place to live
during WWII!
At age 35, a married man with children, with little money and while living in a city (London) under constant attack by bombs dropped from airplanes (this of course was during World War II!) – with all of that going on, Richter decided to enter medical school! He continued with his research at the same time as going to medical school, AND he even set up a research laboratory for treating shell-shock!

After the war was over, Richter studied epilepsy; also, he worked with one of the first Geiger counters in the nation to isolate nuclei from the cells of the cerebral cortex. He studied brain metabolism, brain function, therapies, proteins in the brain, and – and – and – !

One thing I was struck by is how collaborative Richter was, working with a wide variety of other researchers and doctors on a variety of studies. He worked with his wife on at least one project. He gathered together an international group of scientists from many different fields to create a global approach to research.

Richter helped start The Journal of Neurochemistry, he helped create brain research organizations, and he started a charity to research mental illness. He was in high demand as a lecturer, and he won awards and fellowships and other sorts of honors.

Richter also became involved with the World Health Organization and Amnesty International; he wrote humanitarian books; he became one of the first sperm donors (at a time when it was really controversial); and he helped to create a refuge for discharged mental patients.

I mean – wow! Derek Richter was just a bit of an achiever, wasn't he? And ahead of his time, as well!

Thanks to Google, you can learn more about
brain chemistry than Derek Richter ever knew.

That's because we have learned more about brains
in the past few decades than we have all of previous
human history. But Richter helped to start that 
explosion of knowledge!

Also on this date:

(January 14 to March 7) Magh Mela in India

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