Professor Dr. Roongtam Ladpli’s First Memorial Lecture
Professor Dr. Roongtam Ladpli and the Development of Neuroscience in Thailand
Research Center for Neuroscience, and International Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University, Salaya, Nakornpathom, 73170, Thailand,
Distinguished colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very much honored to have the opportunity to deliver the First Professor Dr. Roongtam Ladpli ’s Memorial Lecture at the 3rd FAONS Symposium of the Federation of Asian and Oceanean Neuroscience Societies on December 4, 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. I would also like to express my profound appreciation and sincere thank the Organizing Committee of this 3rd FOANS Symposium for inviting me and for their thoughtful plan to include this First Memorial lecture for the late Professor Dr. Roongtam Ladpli who was the First and Founding President of both Thai Neuroscience Society (TNS) and the Federation of Asian and Oceanean Neuroscience Societies (FAONS).
On Sunday 17th November 2002, we all have lost our most beloved senior colleague and neurosurgeon, Professor Dr. Roongtam Ladpli by an automobile accident. I have the pleasure of knowing and working closely with him for more than forty years and have known his important contribution to the development of neuroscience in Thailand.
Professor Roongtam Ladpli was born on 28 April 1935 in Bangkok. His father, H.E. Phaya Ladpli Thamprakal, a noble man, was the former judge of the Supreme Court and the Minister of the Royal Department of Justice. Roongtam was very energetic and he lived a very illustrious, colorful and decorated life with so many closed famous friends in many fields of academic, sport and medical professions.
The highest honor and pride in his life was when he was nominated and appointed as the Personal Royal Physician of His Majesty King Bhumiphol of Thailand. In his last 20 years of life, Roongtam accompanied His Majesty during HM King’s frequent visits to help people in remote rural areas as well as daily functions in the Royal Palaces.
Professor Roongtam Ladpli graduated in Doctor of Medicine with Gold Medal First Class Honor from the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital in 1957. During his residency training in surgery at Siriraj Hospital, Roongtam was selected by H.E. Professor Dr. Udom Poshakritsana, the Founder of Neurosurgery in Thailand and the Former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Former Minister of Health, as the chief resident for neurosurgery. Professor Udom introduced Roongtam to Professor Dr. Paul C. Bucy, the world famous neurosurgeon of North Western University in Chicago, and sent Roongtam for further training in USA. In 1959 Roongtam was accepted for neurosurgical training program and Professor Bucy sent him to do basic research work in the Neurophysiology Laboratory of Professor Dr. Clinton N. Woolsey at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. Roongtam had the opportunities to learn Stereotaxic and electrophysiological techniques and published some classic work with Professor Woolsey on the organization of the pre- and post-central leg areas and the representation of the visual fields in the visual areas I and II of the cat’s cerebral cortex. He also worked and published together with Professor G. H. Wang on spontaneous variations of skin potentials in footpads of normal, striatal and spinal cats (J Neurophysiol. 1960 July; 23:448-52.), and on Galvanic skin reactions of chronic spinal cats (Am J Phys Med. 1962 Feb; 41:15-22.). Returning to work with Professor Bucy at North Western University in Chicago, Roongtam completed his clinical work and received his American Board of Neurological Surgery in 1963. He also published two important classical works with Professor Bucy (Bucy PC, and Ladpli R: Recoverable paraplegia. JAMA. 185:685 691; 1963 and Bucy PC, Ladpli R, Ehrlich A. Destruction of the pyramidal tract in the monkey: The effects of bilateral section of the cerebral peduncles. J. Neurosurgery 25, 1-23, 1966). Before returning to Thailand, Roongtam had further training in pediatric neurosurgery at the Children Memorial Hospital in Chicago and in neuropathology at the Montefiorre Hospital and Columbia University in New York.
Roongtam was appointed as lecturer and a neurosurgeon in the Department of Surgery at the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital in 1964 and he taught medical students and residents in surgery and neurosurgery. With his clinical proficiency he also received a Fellowship in American college of Surgeon (FACS) in 1967. Very fortunately Roongtam had an opportunity to meet with the world famous neuro-anatomist Professor Dr. Alf Brodal from the University of Oslo in Norway during a conference in London. Professor Brodal invited Roongtam to do a Postdoctoral research in Norway with the support of NORAD (Norwegian Agency for International Development). Roongtam used his neurosurgical skills to solve difficult experimental approaches to study the reticular and vestibular commissural connections in the brainstem of cats. He published a much referred classical paper with Alf Brodal (Ladpli, R., Brodal, A.: Experimental studies of commissural and reticular formation projections from the vestibular nuclei in the cat. Brain Res. 8, 65-96, 1968.). Together with Professors Alf Brodal, Fred Walberg and Eric Rinvik, Roongtam initiated a long-term collaboration between the University of Oslo and Mahidol University with the support of NORAD.
In 1975 Roongtam introduced Naiphinich Kotchabhakdi to Professor Dr. Fred Walberg from University of Oslo, Norway and Naiphinich was invited to Oslo on NORAD postdoctoral fellowship to study with Fred Walberg, Eric Rinvik and Alf Brodal in 1976. Returning from Oslo with generous supports for basic and research equipment, chemicals and laboratory supplies from Fred Walberg and NORAD, Naiphinich established collaborative research program with University of Oslo and by now 19 Thai scientists received pre- and post-doctoral training in Norway. In 1978, with supports from IBRO, NORAD and WHO, the first International Workshop on Basic Neuroscience was organized at Mahidol University in Bangkok with 65 participants from local and 35 participants from all over Asia, Africa and Latin America. On October 30, 1984 with a strong encouragement from Roongtam to Professor Dr. Natth Bhamarapravati, the former President of Mahidol University, the University established the Neuro-Behavioural Biology Center (NBBC) in 1982 and developed an International Graduate Program in Neuroscience (M.Sc. in 1987 and Ph.D. in 1988) at the new Salaya Campus. By 2008, more than 90 students (60 M.Sc. and 30 Ph.D.) have graduated from the International Neuroscience program at NBBC. Neuroscience teaching and research activities have also been established at Chulalongkorn, Chieng Mai, Khon Kean and Prince of Song Khla Universities in Thailand.
After a conference at Khon Kean University, the Thai Neuroscience Society (TNS) was established in 1985 with Roongtam as the First and Founding President. We now have more than 150 full and student members. In 1988, TNS organizes another IBRO workshop in Asia at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. In 1998, with strategic support from Roongtam and the late Professor Dr. David Ottoson, the Secretary-General of IBRO, TNS organized the first Asian Congress of Neuroscience and this led to the establishment of the Federation of Asian and Oceanean Neuroscience Societies (FAONS). Roongtam became the First and Founding President of FAONS.
Today, Neuroscience in Thailand has spread into many new universities and institutions and neuroscientists in Thailand are involving with applying our knowledge to improve learning and memory, stem-cell research for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, and molecular or nano-neuroscience.
Major Areas of Neuroscience Research in Thailand
Comparative neurobiology of the cerebellum
- Evolution of neuronal circuits of the cerebellum and their roles in motor control and coordination of behaviors
- Biophysical properties of ionic channels on Purkinje cell membranes
- Information processing in cerebellar neuronal network and plasticity of cerebellar neuronal system
- Cerebellar control of behaviors
- Computerized polysomnographic and automated sleep staging and studies of sleep disorders, e.g. Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS), Insomnia, Sleep Apnea and Sleep Breathing Disorders, REM-Sleep Behavior Disorders (RBD). Sleep Paralysis.
- Epidemiology of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and the overlapping with AD/HD and Iron Deficiency
Research on brain, behavioral and cognitive development
- Influences of nutrition and environment including pre- and postnatal stress on brain development
- Behavioral studies of child psychiatric problems such as AD/HD, Autistic Spectrum Disorders,
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders in Thai population.
- Drug abuse and addiction
- Pathogenesis of schizophrenia
- Stress and Depression
Pineal and melatonin research
- Role of opioid system in pineal function
- Melatonin and pain
- Melatonin and neurodegenerative disorder
- Role of dopamine system in pineal function
- Roles of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in pineal functions
- Molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease
- Molecular biology of amyloid protein, ApoE, tau, inflammation and oxidative stress mechanisms.
- Molecular mechanism of Parkinson’s disease
- Endogenous neurotoxin in Parkinson’s disease
- Drugs and chemicals for treatment of Parkinson’s disease
- Molecular biology of brain cancer
- Tumor suppressor genes and human brain tumors.
- Pain and cortical plasticity in humans
- Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Research on language and brain
- Electrophysiological studies of neural systems underlying human language such as, auditory and phonetic encoding, semantics and pragmatics interface.
Neural stem cell transplantation as models for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders
- Cerebrovascular Diseases and Stroke
- Parkinson’s disease
- Spinal Cord Injuries
Development of neuropharmacological drugs from herbal and Thai traditional