The “fascinating” story of the global scientific race to discover and unlock the power of endorphins—the body’s own morphine (The New Yorker).
In 1973, scientists John Hughes and Hans Kosterlitz were studying pig brains in an underfunded laboratory in Aberdeen, Sweden. During their research, the duo discovered a non-addictive narcotic chemical. What if they could find a similar chemical in humans? If human brains also had this chemical and they could somehow isolate it, perhaps Hughes and Kosterlitz could find a way to help the world begin to heal itself. Their work would lead them to discover endorphins, the body’s own natural morphine and the chemical that makes it possible to feel both pain and pleasure.
Their findings made Hughes and Kosterlitz overnight celebrities. Soon, scientists all over the world were rushing to study the human brain and its endorphins. In a few years, scientists would use the team’s initial research to link endorphins to drug addiction, runner’s high, appetite control, sexual response, and mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.
In Anatomy of a Scientific Discovery, Jeff Goldberg describes Hughes and Kosterlitz’s lives before, during, and after their historic and scientific breakthrough. He also reveals the brutal competition between drug companies as they raced to find a way to cash in on this monumental discovery.