A Starling Is Born: #EB2013

Apr 22 2013 Published by under Kidney Function

keep-calm-and-talk-science.pngMany awards in science give one the chance to deliver a lecture. These awards are usually named for famous dead guys, such as Ernest Starling. Here is his biography from the APS Website:

Ernest Starling (1866-1927) was pre-eminent in the golden age of British Physiology. His name is usually associated with his Law of the Heart, but his discovery of secretin (the first hormone whose mode of action was explained) and his work on capillaries were more important contributions. He coined the word 'hormone' one hundred years ago. His analysis of capillary function demonstrated that equal and opposite forces move across the capillary wall--an outward (hydrostatic) force and an inward (osmotic) force derived from plasma proteins. Starling was much more than a gifted scientist. He held passionate views on many subjects -- education, London University, Germany and the British Government, etc. -- and was not slow to voice them. Time has shown most of his views to be right, but their publication may have hampered his worldly success. Working on defense against poison gas during WWI, he crossed swords with the war officer. After resigning his commission as colonel, he became chairman of the committee supervising British nutrition and successfully introduced food rationing.

If he were around today, I just know he would have blogged. But on to an excellent presentation by Donald Kohan, MD, PhD, a professor at Utah who studies the role of the collecting duct in control of blood pressure. He has teased out the role of a number of substances by creating mice that overexpress or lack these substances only in the collecting duct cells. Just creating that many mice over a career blows my mind! His talk flowed so logically and told the story so clearly, I am afraid all subsequent lectures for the near future will falter in comparison.

I live-tweeted the session, and I have collected my thoughts below. Some abbreviations pop up now and then, including CD for collecting duct, AC for adenyl cyclase, and PRA for plasma renin activity. If something is unclear, ask in the comments.

I also enjoyed when he acknowledged the support of his spouse and family by pointing out how professionally-accomplished his wife was as well.

[View the story "APS Starling Lecture 2013" on Storify]

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