American Philosophical Society
Member History

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2. Biological Sciences[X]
209. Neurobiology[X]
1Name:  Dr. Louis Sokoloff
 Institution:  National Institutes of Health
 Year Elected:  2005
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  209. Neurobiology
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1921
 Death Date:  July 30, 2015
Born in Philadelphia in 1921, the second of two sons of Eastern European immigrants, Louis Sokoloff early discovered the power of books in satisfying his curiosity and thirst for knowledge. His undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania was highlighted by exposure to the illustrious physiologist L. V. Heilbrunn. Contacts with this professor in and out of the classroom stimulated his love of science, which never faltered. It was Heilbrunn who first noted Sokoloff's potential and who steered him toward a professional career--he recommeneded medical studies. An interest in cell excitation on the one hand, stemming back to his undergraduate days, and assignments to psychiatric services in his medical internship as well as during his subsequent Army service on the other, intensified Sokoloff's interest in brain function. It was during this period that he met his future wife Betty. Following his return to civilian life in 1949, he sought to renew his interest in research, and was drawn to the laboratory of the then-35 year old Seymour Kety, who had just landed an NIH grant at Penn and was looking for a young associate. Soon thereafter, Dr. Sokoloff became immersed in learning the theoretical and practical aspects of the nitrous oxide technique for measuring the rate of cerebral blood flow (CBF) in humans. The method is based on Kety's mathematical model that derived the flow rate from measurement of brain uptake and release of diffusible substance. Low concentrations of the inert gas nitrous oxide was used for this purpose. During this period, Sokoloff made his first measurement of cerebral metabolism in hyperthyroidism, finding it not to be elevated even when the body's basal metabolic rate was nearly double. This led him to the hypothesis that thyroid hormones stimulate protein synthesis and to his interest in the thyroid hormone functions, a subject to which he subsequently made significant contributions. Many studies were performed on human subjects by Kety, Sokoloff, and co-workers, examining the rates of CBF and metabolism in mental activity, sleep, anesthesia, and under the influence of various pharmacological agents. In 1951, Kety moved to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and offered Sokoloff the opportunity to join him. He accepted, and eventually was appointed Chief of the Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism at the NIH, a title he retained for 35 years. At the NIH, Sokoloff collaborated with Kety, William Landau, Lewis Rowland and Walter Freygang, in developing a quantitative autoradiographic technique for measuring regional CBF in animals which he used to demonstrate a clear linkage between functional activity and regional blood flow in visual pathways of the brain. The autoradiographs from this study represented the first ever published demonstration of functional brain imaging. Sokoloff then used the quantitative autoradiographic technique to develop a method for the measurement of regional brain metabolism of glucose, the almost exclusive substrate for energy metabolism in the brain. There is little need to recount in detail Sokoloff's pioneering studies on regional cerebral glucose utilization for which he introduced the use of -2deoxy-D-[14C]glucose. The elegance of the deoxyglucose method itself and the great care taken in its quantification and in defining its limits are all reflections of Sokoloff's research style. Adaptation of the method to human studies was subsequently accomplished by means of single photon and positron emission tomography, in which [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose replaced the 14C=labeled compound, and was the result of a collaborative effort between Sokoloff, Martin Reivich, David Kuhl, Alfred Wolf, and Michael Phelps. The many tributes already paid Dr. Sokoloff attest to his accomplishments. Among his honors were membership in numerous societies and professional organizations including the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2005. He served as president of the American Society for Neurochemistry, the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, and the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease and on various editorial and advisory boards. He was the recipient of the Distinquished Service Award of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1976); the F.O. Schmitt Medal in Neuroscience (1980); the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award (1981); the Karl Spencer Lashley Award of the American Philosophical Society (1987); the National Academy of Sciences Award in the Neurosciences (1988); the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Award of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (1988); the Award of the Mihara Cerebrovascular Disorder Research Promotion Fund (1988); the Vicennial Medal, Georgetown University (1994); Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society of Biological Psychiatry (1996); and the Ralph Gerard Award of the Society of Neuroscience (1996). Dr. Sokoloff died July 30, 2015, at the age of 93, in Washington, DC.
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