Mailed 9/23/98

Contact: Diane Greenberg (516) 344-2347 or Mona S. Rowe (516) 344-5056




Upton, NY - John Gatley, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory since 1989, has been awarded tenure. Tenure appointments recognize independent accomplishment of a high order in the performance of original research or other intellectually creative activity appropriate to the purposes of the Laboratory.

Dr. Gatley's medical research in recent years has focused on developing radioactive compounds for medical imaging, investigating pharmaceuticals that may stop effects of addictive drugs, and determining the effects of radiation in space on the brain.

Working with University of Connecticut researchers, Dr. Gatley developed a radioactive compound that binds to brain receptors for marijuana. Using this compound in conjunction with a technique called Single Photon Emission Tomography, or SPECT, he obtains images of the brain showing how marijuana affects it.

"The active ingredient of marijuana, called THC, is legally used as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients and to relieve nausea that is caused by some cancer therapies," Dr. Gatley said. "There is also anecdotal evidence that marijuana or THC may be useful in stopping the progression of multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. One aim of this research is to develop drugs that retain the beneficial medical properties of marijuana, while avoiding its mind-altering effects. Other aims are to better understand normal brain function and how frequent marijuana smoking can damage the brain."

In other work related to drug abuse, Dr. Gatley has developed a mathematical model of cocaine's actions in the brain. This model may explain why some experimental drug treatments designed to block craving in cocaine abusers, based on the use of methadone with heroin abusers, have not worked in practice and may actually exacerbate cocaine's effects.

In addition to his drug-abuse research, Dr. Gatley works closely with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researchers on experiments conducted at Brookhaven Lab to determine the effects of cosmic radiation on astronauts. This research will help investigators understand what kind of radiation shielding is needed for future space missions.

Educated in England, Dr. Gatley received a B.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Durham in 1970 and an M.Sc. in microbiological chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemical pharmacology from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1971 and 1975, respectively.

From 1975-85, Dr. Gatley worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and, in 1985, he joined the University of Chicago's Radiology Department. In 1989, he came to Brookhaven's Chemistry Department, and, in 1992, transferred to the Laboratory's Medical Department.

Dr. Gatley served on the advisory panel on radiopharmaceuticals for the U.S. Pharmacopoeial Convention from 1989-97, and in the biochemistry study section for the National Institute on Drug Abuse from 1993-97. He is the author of 123 peer-reviewed scientific publications.


NOTE TO LOCAL EDITORS: John Gatley is a resident of Rocky Point, NY.