Part 2: The Reality As Overseer


Everyone who writes has reality as his overseer

This segment will render a detailed correction of Arvid Carlsson’s distorted historical account.

I, Bengt Falck, present it not only for my sake but for the benefit of those excellent individuals who were my coworkers at the time. We should not permit the admirable achievements of these persons to be minimized by historical falsification.

Our Falck-Hillarp fluorescence method was developed to detect the four monoamines dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline, serotonin and certain chemically related substances. When the method was introduced it was hailed as a histochemical technique of seminal importance. It became possible for the first time to demonstrate the presence and precise location of monoamines within neurons and a host of other cells. This made it possible to offer rational proposals concerning their functions. It was soon confirmed that monoamines act as neurotransmitters (signal substances) in the nervous system. The method was quickly adopted by researchers in several countries and generated a remarkably large number of scientific works during the ensuing decades.

Few of us are fortunate enough to originate a method that later would permit the solution of numerous medical and biological problems, primarily within the field of neurobiology.

There exists, as mentioned in the foregoing, a peculiar historical account on the origin of the method, contending that it was created in a single day in 1961, on the basis of one single experiment that, in turn, was based on previously performed – entirely chemical – experiments. (Carlsson’s official note 1965).

In the following I will give an account showing that this kind of history writing is purely mythical. My account is based solely on:

• Published material available to anyone in libraries, as well as public documents (only accessible in Swedish libraries)

• Obvious conclusions drawn from this material.

The first to suggest this distorted description about the origin of the method was Arvid Carlsson, who in a public note (in the course of an argument about the proper way to describe others’ work in a thesis  (see Bengt Falck – The Lund Histochemist… Research by Richard Burack under the heading ”1965: Fuxe earns his doctorate”) to the Faculty of Medicine of the Karolinska Institute of 3 May 1965 (Carlsson’s official note 1965) writes:

“Thanks to Hillarp’s and Thieme’s carefully executed model experiments, Hillarp and Falck at the end of September or early October in 1961, after less than one day’s worth of experimental work in Lund, were able to demonstrate fluorescent structures in such stretch preparations, appearing precisely similar to the autonomous ground plexus described in Hillarp’s dissertation. In order to apply this method to tissues other than these thin stretch preparations, special techniques had to be devised at which tissue preparations were freeze-dried, exposed to formaldehyde, and thereafter embedded and sectioned.”

The story continues… Part 3: An Indisputable Proof