Edelman, Gerald Maurice

Edelman, Gerald Maurice, 1929–2014, American biochemist and neuroscientist, b. Queens, N.Y., M.D. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1954; Ph.D. Rockefeller Institute, 1960. He was a professor at the Rockefeller Institute (later Rockefeller Univ.) from 1966 to 1992, when he joined the faculty at the Scripps Research Institute, San Diego, Calif. He founded (1981) the Neurosciences Institute while at Rockefeller Univ.; it moved to San Diego, Calif., in 1993 and then (1995) to the Scripps campus, later (2012) moving to a separate facility in La Jolla.

Edelman shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Rodney R. Porter for discoveries concerning the chemical structure of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins produced by the body. The two worked independently and used different techniques to construct a complete model of the antibody molecule, a giant that is made up of more than 1,300 amino acids. Their pioneering work led to an explosion of research activity in immunology. From the mid-1970s Edelman focused on neuroscience, and developed the theory of neuronal group selection, also known as neural Darwinism, as part of a biologically based explanation of consciousness and mind. He wrote Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind (1992) and A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination (with Giulio Tononi, 2000).

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