Neurobiology of nAChRs and cognition: A mini review of Dr. Jerry J. Buccafusco's contributions over a 25 year career

Alvin V. Terry, Michael W. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This review highlights some of the many contributions of the late Dr. Jerry J. Buccafusco to the neurobiology of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and cognition over a 25 year period. The article is written by two of Dr. Buccafusco's professional colleagues, one from academia and one from the pharmaceutical industry. While Dr. Buccafusco's expertise in the cholinergic field was extensive, his insights into the practical relevance of his work (with a long-term goal of formulating new drug development strategies) were unique, and a great asset to both the basic science community and pharmaceutical companies. In 1988, Dr. Buccafusco's laboratory was the first to report the cognitive enhancing action of low doses of nicotine in non-human primates. Since that time he studied a large number of novel pro-cognitive agents from several pharmacological classes in rodents as well as monkeys. Based on years of observing paradoxical effects of nicotinic ligands in vitro and in vivo, Dr. Buccafusco made the provocative argument that it might be possible to develop new chemical entities (with pro-cognitive actions) that have the ability to desensitize nAChRs without producing an antecedent agonist action. Some of his more recent work focused on development of single molecular entities that act on multiple CNS targets (including nAChRs) to enhance cognition, provide neuroprotection, and/or provide additional therapeutic actions (e.g., antipsychotic effects). Dr. Buccafusco's influence will live on in the work of the numerous graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty that he mentored over the years who now serve in prestigious positions throughout the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)883-890
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2011


  • Acetylcholine
  • Drug development
  • Learning and memory
  • Nicotine
  • Nicotinic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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