|Born||August 28, 1927|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||February 6, 2013 (aged 85)|
|Alma mater||Swarthmore College|
Life and career
Betty M Twarog was born on August 28, 1927, in New York City. She attended Swarthmore College from 1944 to 1948, focusing on mathematics. While studying for an M.Sc. at Tufts College she heard a lecture on mollusc muscle neurology and in 1949 enrolled under John Welsh in the PhD program at Harvard to study this area. By 1952 she had submitted a paper showing that serotonin had a role as a neurotransmitter in mussels.  In autumn 1952 Twarog moved for family reasons to the Kent State University area, and chose the Cleveland Clinic as a place to continue her study of her hypothesis that invertebrate neurotransmitters would also be found in mammals. Although her supporter there, Irvine Page did not believe serotonin would be found in the brain, he nevertheless gave Twarog a laboratory and technician. By June 1953 a paper was submitted announcing the isolation of serotonin in mammalian brain. 
Twarog left the Cleveland Clinic in 1954 and continued to work on invertebrate smooth muscle at Tufts, Harvard and SUNY at Stony Brook. In later years, at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, she worked on how shellfish evade phytoplankton poisons.
Impact in science and medicine
Twarog's isolation of serotonin in brain established its potential as a neurotransmitter and thus a modulator of brain action. Her discovery was an essential precursor to the creation in 1978 of the antidepressant SSRI medicines such as fluoxetine and sertraline.
- "Betty M. Twarog Obituary". Book of Memories. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24.
- Whitaker-Azmitia, Patricia Mack (1999). "The Discovery of Serotonin and its role in Neuroscience". Neuropsychopharmacology. 21 (2): 2S–8S. doi:10.1016/S0893-133X(99)00031-7. PMID 10432482.
- Twarog, Betty M. (1953). "Responses of a molluscan smooth muscle to acetylcholine and 5-hydroxytryptamine". Journal of Cellular and Comparative Physiology. 44 (1): 157–161. doi:10.1002/jcp.1030440112. PMID 13211759.
- Twarog, Betty M.; Page, Irvine (1953). "Serotonin content of some mammalian tissues and urine and a method for its determination". Am J Physiol. 175 (1): 157–161. doi:10.1152/ajplegacy.19220.127.116.11. PMID 13114371.
- "Betty M Twarog". Maine-OK Enterprises, Inc.