Cyril Lennox Moore (14th Feb 1928- 22nd Feb 2006)

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Professor Cyril Lennox Moore became a recognisable name at the famous Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the university with the largest postgraduate medical training programme in the United States of America. He was also a founding faculty member at the Morehouse School of Medicine and a pioneer in mitochondrial research1 before it became an established field of study.

Moore was born on 14th February, 1928 in Tunapuna, Trinidad. He received his primary education at Tunapuna E.C. School and went on to Queen’s Royal College. After leaving secondary school, he worked with the postal service as a clerk until 1950, when he immigrated to the United States to further his studies. He completed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Chemistry at Brooklyn College, New York in 1953. After graduating, he was called to serve the United States Army but received an honourable discharge due to disability, and proceeded to pursue his Master of Arts (MA) degree in Chemistry at Brooklyn College in 1958.

In 1964, Moore obtained his Doctorate (PhD) in Neurology and Biology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, specialising in cellular energy production in the nervous system. He pursued his post-doctorate studies at the Johnson Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. There, he contributed to an internationally famous study on the antibiotic valinomycin2, showing that it forced mitochondria to absorb potassium rather than power the cell. He returned to the Albert Einstein College in 1965 to serve as Instructor, rising to Fellow and finally becoming Assistant Professor of Neurology and Biochemistry until 1970, when he left for Texas.

After spending three years as Professor of Biochemistry and Pediatrics at the Medical Branch of the University of Texas, Galveston, Moore returned to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as Associate Professor of Neurology, Biochemistry and Neuroscience and Professor of Biology and the Biomedical Programme. In 1972, a post-doctoral trainee under his supervision, Wendy Cammer, discovered that the liquid cleanser pHisoHex was harmful. The chemical, which had previously been used in new-born nurseries, caused mitochondria to take up oxygen without producing adenosine triphosphate3 (ATP) essentially starving the brain’s cells to death. Dr Moore also conducted research on the obscure Zellweger’s syndrome4 and mentored many up-and-coming neurologists during his time at the College.

In 1976, he relocated to the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. He was a highly esteemed Professor and Chairman of the Biochemistry Department until his retirement in 1999. On the 12th February 2000, the Cyril L. Moore Scholarship for medical students was created at Morehouse as a testament to his dedication to education and the great respect that he commanded from his peers at that institution.

Professor Moore served on many state boards, advisory boards and academic council committees including the American Chemical Society, the Beta Kappa Chi (Biology Honor Society), the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Biology Honor Society and the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He also authored numerous books, articles and other publications, and was a highly regarded speaker.

Professor Cyril Moore passed away on 22nd February, 2006 at the age of 76.

 

 

 

  1. The mitochondrion is a cellular structure that serves as the centre of energy production and the producer of ATP in the cell
  2. This chemical is no longer an antibiotic. Now classified as hazardous, it is used as an insecticide
  3. Cells synthesise ATP molecules to store energy and break ATP molecules down to release energy
  4. Zellweger’s syndrome is a rare disorder marked by the reduction or absence of the cellular structures that rid the body of toxic substances in the liver, kidneys and brain