Thomas F. Murray
Distinguished Research Professor 2001
Thomas F. Murray has pioneered the use of molecular pharmacologic approaches in understanding the physiological roles of adenosine and the mechanisms of drugs. His achievements have opened important and promising new areas of research that he is using to develop novel strategies for treating seizure disorders and drug abuse. Dr Murray has made many important contributions to the understanding of the functions of extracellular adenosine in the brain. His laboratory was the first to demonstrate an upregulation of brain A1 adenosine receptors following chronic treatment with antagonists such as theophylline and caffeine. He also found that adenosine agonists raise seizure threshold. He later showed that there was a temporal correlation between A1 adenosine receptor upregulation and seizure susceptibility, and that inhibition of adenosine kinase had anticonvulsant effects in the rat cerebral cortex. This finding is the bases of developing adenosine kinase inhibitors as possible anticonvulsant drugs to treat epilepsy in humans. Dr. Murray has also contributed to understanding the mechanism of the anesthetic phencyclidine, which is a cause of drug abuse in some humans.