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Biography on Dr. Baldomero M. Olivera

Source: The Academy of Filipino Scientists :

Dr. Baldomero M. Olivera - Distinguished Professor at University of Utah. His group made a breakthrough discovery of a family of biomolecules they collectively called conotoxins from Conus sp. marine snails (Cone shells) collected in tropical waters of the Philippines. These biomolecules are widely used in neuroscience research today in the study of ion channels and neuro-muscular synapses. The group's research effort,. (the research group has Dr. Lourdes J. Cruz who has appointments in Utah and the University of the Philippines and SCF's long time reader, lurker and sometimes poster Dr. Fe. C. Abogadie as members among others) was prominently featured in and was on the cover of Science (Conus markings) in 1990, (along with a glowing feature on Dr. Olivera and the importance of his discovery) and the EMBO Journal (European Molecular Biology Organization) also in 1990.

Sources: Science EMBO Journal

Dr. Olivera graduated summa cum laude graduate from the Univesity of the Philippines in 1960. He took his PhD from the California Institute of Technology (1966) in Chemistry, a research fellowship at the CIT and postdoctoral work at Stanford University School of Medicine was a fellow of the Damon Runyon Research Fund, Dept. of Biochemistry from 1966-1968. He returned to the Philippines to become a research associate professor of Biochemistry at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine before coming back to the U.S. to take up a position as a visiting research associate professor at Kansas State University. He then became an associate professor at the University of Utah in 1970, a professor at the same university in 1973 and has held the title of Distinguished Professor of Biology since 1992. Dr. Olivera has over 158 publications on the different classes of Conus sp. toxins.

From XENOPHORA, Newsletter of the Philadelphia Shell Club, December, 1999.

From his unconventional beginings in an unequipped lab in the Philippines, Dr. Baldomero M. Olivera has risen to become one of the leaders of the fast growing field of neuropharmacology. Using a unique peptide source—venomous marine snails—Dr Olivera and his co workers have identified and characterized several dozen neurotoxins that target specific ion channels in the central nervous system. These peptide toxins are now widely used in neurotoxin research. One peptide enabled identification of voltage- gated calcium channel subtypes, a major contribution to the field. Dr Olivera’s primary interest is in the molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function. His work has lead to the development of a drug, now in clinical trials, that appears to be more effective against chronic pain than morphine. Knowledge provided by his basic research studies may also shed light on conditions, such as schizophrenia and epilepsy, that involve the function of receptors and ion channels in the nervous system. Dr. Olivera is the Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Utah, where he has been on the faculty since 1970. He earned his B.S. in chemistry from the University of the Philippines, a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, and did postdoctral work at Stanford University. Beginning with his selection as a Fulbright Scholar in 1991, Dr Olivera has continued to receive honors and awards and has served on several editorial boards.

Dr. Lourdes J. Cruz -

Research Professor of Biology at the University of Utah.

Dr. L.J. Cruz is a collaborator of Dr. Toto Olivera.

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