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Obituary: Alexander George Karczmar (1917-2017)

October 05, 2017
Prepared by Palmer Taylor, Israel Silman and Hermona Soreq

Alexander George Karczmar
Alexander Karczmar, known as Alex or Niki, passed away on August 17, 2017. He was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1917. His education in Poland was interrupted by anti-semitic outbursts in the late 1930’s, but in 1939 he emigrated to the United States. After completing his M.A. and Ph.D. at Columbia University, in 1946 and 1947, he joined the Department of Pharmacology at Georgetown University, where he became interested in the cholinergic nervous system. A member of ASPET since 1953, he rose through the academic ranks at Georgetown, spending a portion of his time at Sterling-Winthrop developing cholinesterase inhibitors (ambenonium-Mytelase) and vasodilators (amotriphene-Myordil). In 1956, he became Professor and Chair of Pharmacology at Loyola University at the Chicago Medical Center and held that position from 1956 to 1986, a long term of service as a chair.

Alex exemplified academic life after being a chair, carrying an active research program, manuscript production and meeting reviews up until the very end. He was a primary proponent of the cholinergic nervous system contributing to alertness, cognitive behavior and perception of “self”. He was an organizer of many symposia and an awardee of several citations in the United States, Japan and Europe. Alex had reached centenarian status this year. The book that he edited and wrote the majority of chapters a decade ago, entitled "Exploring the Vertebrate Central Cholinergic Nervous System" published in 2007 by Springer, is found in many libraries and still is a most valuable "opus magnum" and archival reference for students of CNS pharmacology, physiology and neuroscience.

A more detailed obituary and description of Alex Karczmar’s research interests and contributions may be found in Journal of Neurochemistry (2017)
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