2004 Salivary Research Award to Ekstrom

March 10, 2004

Honolulu, Hawaii...Professor Jorgen Ekström is the recipient of the 2004 Salivary Research Award from the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), convening here today for its 82nd General Session. The award was designed to stimulate and recognize outstanding and innovative achievements that have contributed to the basic understanding of salivary gland structure, secretion, and function, or salivary composition and function.

Professor Ekström received his MD degree in 1966, and his PhD degree in physiology in 1975, from Lund University, Malmö, Sweden. He now holds the positions of Professor and Chair in Pharmacology, Medical Faculty, Göteborg University, and Deputy Head of the Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Sweden. He is a member of several major research associations and societies, and has served as Editor of the Journal of Physiology and other research publications. He has published 136 research papers, as well as reviews, book chapters, proceedings, and a patent.

Professor Ekström has dedicated his scientific career to unraveling the mysteries of autonomic nerve activities in salivary glands, thereby contributing to the understanding of the control of salivary secretion and related functions. He has made outstanding original contributions to these fields of enquiry. He commenced his research career in 1967 as a PhD student in the laboratory of Professor Emmelin at Lund University. Over the years, salivary glands served as the primary model organ in his studies aimed at gaining insight into autonomic neurotransmission mechanisms and their plasticity, and into how these mechanisms exert short-term effects (secretion and blood flow) as well as long-term effects (receptor sensitivity, metabolism and growth) on the glands.

His work has taken him into the realms of the interactions between the different nerves in salivary glandular function and to the effects of denervations, not only on parenchymal cell activities but also on the remaining nerves. He has shown that normal baseline function of parenchymal cells and their nerves depends on a sufficiency of nerve impulse traffic. These various investigations gave him awareness that all the phenomena occurring could not simply be explained by the conventional autonomic transmitters, acetylcholine and noradrenaline. With growing appreciation, from the late 1970s onward, that different neuropeptides co-exist in the axons, alongside the conventional transmitters, he has studied their presence in the glands extensively.

Importantly, he has pioneered functional studies on the roles of many non-conventional transmitters in salivary phenomena. This has involved specialized studies on the receptors and on the intracellular mechanisms involved, including the synthesis of proteins as well as their secretion. Many of his investigations have involved studies on reflex activity in conscious experimental animals. His ideas usually emerge from in vivo studies on a variety of laboratory animals, and this has often created the need for subsequent in vitro assessments by a variety of cell biological procedures to support (or counteract) new hypotheses. Some of his recent work has indicated that nitric oxide synthesis is required for the full glandular responses to certain transmitters, and although the synthesizing enzyme is of the "neuronal type", it is not of neuronal origin and so is likely to have arisen from parenchymal cells. His deep involvement with research on various salivary phenomena over many years has made a great contribution to our understanding of salivary glandular activities, and he continues to make such advances.

The IADR Salivary Research Award, supported by the William Wrigley, Jr. Company, consists of a cash prize and a plaque and is one of 15 Distinguished Scientist Awards conferred annually by the IADR, representing the highest honor the Association can bestow.

Dr. Ekström received his award today during the Opening Ceremonies of the IADR's 82nd General Session.
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