Part 9: In Lund, And Only In Lund


In Lund, and only in Lund

In 1961 and during many subsequent years very extensive histochemical investigations of different tissues and organs from different animals were performed in Lund, and only in Lund.
On 8 August 1962 I was able to write To the Editorial Office of Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm concerning the publication of two works in supplement format: B. Falck, Observations on the possibilities of the cellular localization of monoamines by a fluorescence method Acta physiol.scand. 1962, 56: suppl. 197 1–25 and A. Carlsson, B. Falck and Nils-Åke Hillarp, Cellular localization of brain monoamines Acta physiol.scand. 1962, 56: suppl. 196 1–28. The Editorial Office answered quickly. (Acta Physiologica Scandinavica)


The initial fluorescence-microscopic observations of dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and serotonin in peripheral tissues and in the central nervous system were done in Lund, and at that point the first concrete proof was obtained that all these, i.a. dopamine, are able to function as neurotransmitters.

Dopamine 50 years

In 2007, May 30–June 2 an international symposium took place in Göteborg under the designation Dopamine 50 years (Dopamine 50 years). Very little of all the significant work that has been performed in Lund was mentioned and then only parenthetically. This became particularly obvious at the Evening Round Table50 Years of Dopamine Research; at which where gathered some of those who were active during the early years of dopamine research, revolving around personal reminiscences and with a focus on the pioneering achievements and the early debate on whether or not dopamine actually was a transmitter.

Participants: Floyd Bloom, Arvid Carlsson, Kjell Fuxe, Jaques Glowinski, Paul Greengard, Tomas Hökfelt, Leslie Iversen, Gösta Johnson, Robert Moore and Solomon Snyder. Moderators: Annica Dahlström (Göteborg, Sweden) and M. Zigmond (Pittsburgh, USA). Co-ordinator in the local committee was professor Anders Björklund who did his thesis work in my laboratory and defended his doctoral thesis 1969.

It was clear to those who attended the symposium that its title “Dopamine 50 years” implied that it was 50 years ago that Arvid Carlsson discovered dopamine and its function as transmitter in the brain.

I, Bengt Falck, can with a clear conscience declare that I was the first in the world to see dopamine in brain nerve cells, which actually is the first conclusive proof of its transmitter function.

Michael Zigmond had, prior to the spoken statements by these colleagues, promised to allow comments from the audience amounting to at most 10 minutes. I hastily prepared a brief statement that would, aside from erasing the one-day myth, in addition make clear that the concept that dopamine is actually a transmitter was first experimentally proven in my laboratory at the University of Lund. Out of this came nothing! Following statements delivered by each round-table-participant, Zigmond unexpectedly declared that the time was up, and the meeting was adjourned…

It became perfectly clear that, depending on specific powers and special interests, a historical myth is fully capable of trampling on historical truth.

The story continues… Part 10: The Cajal Club, too, has celebrated the 50th anniversary of the method