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EDMUNDO FISCHER

Edmundo Fischer was born In Budapest, Hungary, in 1904 and received his M.D. in 1929 from the University of Pecs.  He began his professional career as a neurologist and psychiatrist in his native country, but left Hungary in 1938 via Mexico and Chile to settle in Argentina in 1950.

With the introduction of the first therapeutically effective psychotropic drugs in the treatment of mental illness, Fischer’s interest turned to psychopharmacology, and in 1960 he became founding director of the Laboratory of Experimental Psychiatry at Borda Hospital in Buenos Aires.  Three years later, in 1963, he was instrumental in the founding the Argentine Society of Psychopharmacology; and in 1965 he published “Psicofarmacologia”, co-authored by G. Poch and Ronaldo Ucha Udabe, one of the first textbooks in the field. 

Stimulated by Fabing’s observations in the mid-1950s on bufotenin’s psychomimetic effects, Fischer became involved in measuring tryptamine metabolites in urine and reported on significantly higher urinary concentration of bufotenin-like substances in schizophrenia than in normal subjects. His findings fueled the ongoing controversy in the 1960s and early ‘70s on the role of dimethylated psychotoxic tryptamine metabolites in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.

Pursuing research with the employment of biochemical measures in different diagnostic groups of psychiatric patients Fischer found decreased urinary elimination of phenylethylamine (PEA) in “endogenous depression.” Subsequently, after demonstrating that PEA antagonized reserpine effects in pretreated rats, Fischer was among the first in the early1970s to explore the possible use of phenylalanine, the precursor of PEA, in the treatment of depression.

In 1974 Fischer played a role in the founding the World Federation of Societies in Biological Psychiatry. He died in Buenos Aires one year later, in 1975, at age 71.

Fischer E. Biogenic amines in schizophrenia. In: Hawkins D, Pauling L. eds. Orthomolecular Psychiatry: Treatment of Schizophrenia. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1973, pp. 179-201

Fischer E, Heller  B, Nacchon  M, Spatz H. Therapy of depression by phenylalanine. Preliminary note. Arzneimittelforschung 1975; 25: 132

Fischer E, Heller B, Miro AH. β-Phenylethylamine in human urine. Arznemittelforschung 1968; 18: 1486

Fischer E, Lagrevere TA, Vazquez AJ, Di Stefano AO. Bufoteninlike substance in the urine of schizophrenics. J Nerv Ment Dis 1961;133: 441-7

Fischer E, Patz H. Studies on urinary elimination of bufotenin-like substances. Biological Psychiatry 1970; 2: 235-40; Fischer E, Poch G, Ucha Udabe R. Psicofarmacologia. Buenos Aires: Lopez Egocheyen; 1965

Fischer E, Spatz H, Fledel T. Bufotenin-like substances in form of glucuronide in schizophrenic and normal urine. Psychosomatics 1971; 12: 278-80

Fischer E, Spatz H, Heller B, Reggiani H. Phenethylamine content of human urine and rat brain, its alterations in pathological conditions and after drug administration. Experientia 1972; 15: 307-8

Saavedra.J, Fischer E. Antagonism of β-phenethylamine derivates and serotonin blocking drugs upon serotonin, tryptamine and reserpine behavioral depression in mice. Arzneimittelforschung1970; 20: 952-7.

Edith Serfaty
August 1, 2013