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    Geoffrey Burnstock, one of the most talented and brilliant scientists of his generation, was born on the 10th of May 1929 in London and died on the 2ndof June 2020, aged 91, in Melbourne (Australia). Geoffrey Burnstock started his research studies with an interest in the nerves controlling the guts of guinea pigs, and discovered a completely unexpected and ubiquitous signalling system mediated via extracellular nucleotides (the "purinergic theory"), which revolutionized our understanding of how cells communicate between each other. He made the highly controversial discovery that ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a molecule well known to biochemists for its role as a source of energy inside cells, could also transmit signals between them. Initially, his somewhat heretical theory, that did not fit conventional views, found considerable resistance in the scientific community. However, he continued to accumulate evidence in favor of his hypothesis, extending it to a variety of organs and systems and demonstrating a role for purinergic signaling in the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems, and in the pathophysiology of pain, blood clotting, cell proliferation and differentiation, and immunity. For his entire life, he struggled to attract scientists to this new field and, finally, in the early 1990s, did evidence emerge that convinced the doubters, due to new molecular biology techniques making it possible to isolate and identify the cell surface receptors for ATP and its breakdown product, adenosine. His death clearly impacted a huge number of scientists who have lost their pioneering leader. In this Review, I will not talk of the many discoveries made by Professor Burnstock, nor of his enormous scientific contributions to the field and of the incredible number of prizes and public recognitions that he has received after his theory was accepted worldwide. Instead, I will share some personal memories on him as a teacher and scientist, and, most of all, as a loyal and reliable friend. Geoff was an extraordinary human being, always eager to collaborate and share data, never jealous of his findings and capable of learning even from young people. He was known for his enthusiasm, empathy and ability to motivate young scientists. I was lucky to meet him when I was still very young, and the collaboration and friendship that we established and maintained across the years has profoundly conditioned my professional and personal life. For me, Geoff was what in Italy we call a "Maestro", one of those leading figures who are fundamental not only for mentoring an individual's career but also their growth as a scientist and as a human being. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.

    Citation

    Maria P Abbracchio. Perspectives on Geoff Burnstock as researcher, teacher and friend. Biochemical pharmacology. 2021 May;187:114395


    PMID: 33382971

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