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Murray Elias Jarvik (June 1, 1923 – May 8, 2008) was an American psychopharmacologist and academic who was among the first scientists to study d-lysergic acid, the precursor to LSD, and later became the co-inventor of the nicotine patch. He was a longtime professor emeritus at University of California-Los Angeles, where he taught as a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology for many years.
Murray Jarvik was born in New York City on June 1, 1923. His father, Jacob, was an upholsterer. Jarvik suffered from lifelong heart problems, which began with a severe case of rheumatic fever when he was twelve years old. He later developed polio at the age of 28 and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992, which was cured. He was never a smoker.
Jarvik received his undergraduate bachelor's degree at the City College of New York before earning his master's degree in science at U.C.L.A.. He received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley and his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco.
He was married to his wife, Dr. Lissy Feingold Jarvik, for 53 years, and the couple had two sons. His son Laurence Jarvik made the documentary film Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die about the inaction of the Roosevelt Administration during the time of the Holocaust. His nephew is Robert Jarvik, who developed an artificial heart called Jarvik-7.
Murray Jarvik began research into the absorption of tobacco contents through the skin and its effects on the human body. His initial exploration into this field began by studying farmers and farmhands in the American South who harvest tobacco by hand for a living.
However, Jarvik and his colleague, then UCLA postdoctoral fellow Jed Rose, could not get approval to conduct their research into tobacco absorption through the skin on human subjects. Instead, Jarvik and Rose began testing the effects of absorption of tobacco contents on themselves. The effects of the tobacco was immediately measurable. In an interview with UCLA Magazine, Jarvik remembered, "We put the tobacco on our skin and waited to see what would happen. Our heart rates increased, adrenaline began pumping, all the things that happen to smokers."
Jarvik and Rose's research led to their invention of the nicotine patch in the early 1990s. The nicotine patch is a transdermal patch that delivers nicotine directly through the skin and into to the body to alleviate the urge to smoke and, hopefully, ultimately quit smoking. (Rose now serves as the director of the Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research at Duke University.)
The nicotine patch became available by prescription for smoking cessation in the United States in 1992. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its sale as an over-the-counter treatment in 1996.