Professor David Curtis AC FRS
David Curtis’s work was concerned with the development and use of microtechniques for an analysis of the chemical sensitivity of single nerve cells in the mammalian central nervous system, as a means of identifying synaptic transmitter substances. These ‘microelectrophoretic’ techniques with multi-barrel micropipettes provide a method for comparing synaptic responses with those produced by the administration of known substances into the external environment of a neuron, and have become of major significance in investigations of the pharmacology of the brain and spinal cord. He studied particularly the action of acetylcholine and amino acids at the cellular and membrane level. He was first to demonstrate the central excitant actions of glutamic, aspartic and related acidic amino acids. His final research centered on the function of glycine as the transmitter at strychnine-sensitive inhibitory synapses.
Professor David Curtis AC FRS died on 11 December 2017.