Elling Kvamme died April 3rd 2016 at the age of 97. He was Treasurer of ISN from 1977-81, Chairman/President from 1981-83 and Past President from 1983-85. His time as an ISN Officer covered the turbulent period in ISN’s history when the Society broke with Pergamon Press and started publishing the Journal of Neurochemistry with Raven Press from January 1980. Although preliminary hearings in court had suggested that ISN had a strong case, its lawyers advised Kvamme to try to reach an agreement with Robert Maxwell out of court.
The reason being that ISN at the time had a rather poor financial situation that would not support a legal battle that potentially might last for years. After several contacts, Maxwell finally agreed to give ISN $20,000 to settle the matter outside court. No money arrived even after several telephone calls. When Kvamme finally wrote to Maxwell and said that if the money did not come, he would resign as chairmen of ISN because he had not fulfilled his duty to his Society members. Then the cheque finally arrived. Shortly after this period ISN’s finances changed dramatically with the shift to Raven Press yielding a first check in excess of US$300,000!
Kvamme’s own career started as a medical student at Oslo University. In October 1943 the German occupational forces surrounded the university and arrested all students, including Kvamme, and send them (600) to KZ Buckenwald. Later in life Kvamme spend much time as a witness for Norwegian school children who travelled to visit concentration camps to learn about the horrors of the naziregim - “The youth must be our memory and this should never be forgotten.”
As a neurochemist he will be especially remembered for his work on the enzyme glutaminase which plays an important role in the synthesis of L-glutamate in brain. He purified the phosphate-activated glutaminase and showed that it could solubilized and polymerized in a reversible manner. He raised antibodies against the enzyme and both the purification and its general properties of the brain enzyme were published in Journal of Neurochemistry. He also published numerous other papers related to L-glutamate and its neurochemical regulation in other journals of neuroscience and biochemistry. His seminal work on glutaminase and L-glutamate earned much recognition and has been heavily cited. A more detailed account of his work was published in ISN Neurochemical News. Kvamme published his first paper in 1951 and his final manuscript in 2010.
Frode Fonnum and Phil Beart