Professor Eric Barnard FRS
Eric Barnard is a neuroscientist whose research advanced our understanding of key neural and neuromuscular signalling systems. Pioneering the use of radiolabelled inhibitors to reveal the structure and distribution of enzymes and receptors, Eric elucidated details of important cellular effector proteins — including those found in acetylcholine neurotransmission.
Acetylcholine is a crucial molecule released by nerve cells at their synapse, which is subsequently received by the adjoining nerve or muscle cells to stimulate or inhibit activity. Within the synapse ultrastructure, Eric located and quantified the protein receptor that responds to acetylcholine as well as the enzyme that degrades acetylcholine to switch off transmission of the signal.
Eric has also extensively researched the life-threatening inherited disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy, mapping the expression of the culprit protein dystrophin —known to be present in muscle cells — to cognition and learning centres of the brain. He was awarded the Thudichum Medal of the Biochemical Society in 2008 for his outstanding contributions to neurochemistry.