Part 2 – From New York to NMDA or Red Meat, Oops

In 1987 I applied for a tenure track position at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In my job seminar I described using a technique called “red blood cell mediated microinjection” in which you loaded red blood cells with antibodies and fused them with your target cells to microinject the antibodies. Unfortunately, in my nervousness I said, “Red meat mediated microinjection”. As I stared out at the uncomprehending audience, I could not understand how I had lost them.  Fortunately for me there were few vegetarians on the committee, and I got the job.

My previous work left me convinced that the way forward in studies of protein function was going to require antibodies. My primary research interest since I began graduate school was LTP which is widely regarded as the key cellular mechanism underlying learning and memory.  The key proteins in LTP are known to be the NMDA and AMPA receptors for glutamate. Consequently, I was delighted to see an NIH request for applications to make antibodies for a select group of targets that included the glutamate receptor.

We obtained one of these grants and were successful in making highly specific antibodies for the NMDAR proteins. Our antibodies to these and other components of the NMDAR have subsequently been used in thousands of studies of learning and memory and the NMDAR (View PhosphoSolutions’ NMDA Antibodies.) We used these antibodies to publish a number of studies of LTP. Interestingly other students in the lab were able to use the same antibodies to explore the role of the NMDAR in both drug abuse and in Alzheimer’s disease.

Read the next installment to see how a hurricane led to Antibodies that WorkTM

Read the first installment to see how a shoe salesman became a neuroscientist.

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