American Philosophical Society
Member History

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2. Biological Sciences[X]
1Name:  Sir Michael J. Berridge
 Institution:  The Babraham Institute; University of Cambridge
 Year Elected:  2007
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  201. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1938
 Death Date:  February 13, 2020
Michael John Berridge was born in 1938 in Gatooma, a small town in the middle of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe. He began his education at Jameson High School where he was fortunate in being taught biology by Pamela Bates who fostered his academic interests and encouraged him to pursue a scientific career. He enrolled in the University of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in Salisbury to read Zoology and Chemistry where he received his B.Sc. (1st Class Honours) in 1960. He then travelled to England to begin research on insect physiology with Sir Vincent Wigglesworth at the University of Cambridge and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1964. He than travelled to the United States to begin a period of post-doctoral study first at the University of Virginia and later at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. During his stay in Cleveland he began his interest in how cells communicate with each other and was fortunate to obtain valuable advice from Dr Ted Rall who a few years earlier had worked together with Earl Sutherland who received a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the second messenger cyclic AMP. In 1969 Berridge returned to Cambridge to take up an appointment at the AFRC Unit of Insect Neurophysiology and Pharmacology. He currently is an Emeritus Babraham Fellow at The Babraham Institute Laboratory of Molecular Signalling. Berridge is best known for his discovery of the second messenger inositol trisphosphate (IP3), which plays a universal role in regulating many cellular processes including cell growth and information processing in the nervous system. His studies on cell signalling began with his interest in trying to understand the control of fluid secretion by an insect salivary gland. His introduction and development of this simple model system paved the way for a number of significant observations which culminated in the major breakthrough of uncovering a new second messenger system responsible for regulating intracellular calcium signalling. A role for second messengers in controlling fluid secretion was first recognised when cyclic AMP was found to mimic the stimulatory action of 5-hydroxytryptamine. Subsequent studies revealed that calcium was also important and Berridge was one of the first to draw attention to the integrated action of the cyclic AMP and calcium messenger systems. He showed that signal calcium could be derived from both external and internal reservoirs. A major problem emerged as to how cells gained access to their internal stores of calcium. Berridge provided the first direct evidence to support Michell's hypothesis that the hydrolysis of inositol lipids played a role in calcium signalling. Interest in inositol phosphates began to intensify when Berridge developed a new approach of measuring their formation as a direct way to study receptor-mediated inositol lipid hydrolysis. Of particular significance, was his introduction of the lithium amplification technique to provide an exquisitely sensitive method for measuring inositol lipid turnover. His work on lithium provided new insights into how this drug controls manic-depressive illness. Using the lithium amplification method, Berridge demonstrated that hormones stimulated a rapid formation of IP3, which led him to propose that this metabolite might function as a second messenger. Such a messenger role was rapidly verified when IP3 was found to mobilize calcium when injected into cells. It is now apparent that the IP3/calcium signalling system regulates a wide range of cellular processes such as fertilization, secretion, metabolism, contraction, cell proliferation and information processing in the brain. This work has sparked a worldwide interest in the role of this signalling system in cell regulation. His most recent work has concentrated on the spatial and temporal aspects of calcium signalling. He was one of the first physiologists to provide evidence that the level of calcium might oscillate when cells are stimulated by a hormone. He also showed that oscillation frequency varied with agonist concentration, which led him to propose that the signalling system was frequency-modulated. Berridge's discovery of the IP3/calcium pathway provided an explanation of such oscillatory activity. His laboratory has been at the forefront of recent studies exploiting rapid confocal imaging techniques to characterize the elementary events of calcium signalling. This radically new understanding of how calcium signals are produced has provided new insights into both neural and cardiac cell signalling. Berridge became a Fellow of Trinity College in 1972 and was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1984. In 1999 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For his work on second messengers Berridge has received numerous awards and prizes, including The King Faisal International Prize in Science, The Louis Jeantet Prize in Medicine, The Albert Lasker Medical Research Award, The Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics, The Wolf Foundation Prize in Medicine and The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine. In 1998 Berridge was knighted for his service to science.
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