One of seven children, many of whom settled in the US, Miledi embodied the essence of a global scientist working with the brightest and the best from across the world. Research and discovery was as paramount to him as was bringing forward the next generation of scientists. Miledi devoted time continuously over his career to enabling PhD students to succeed and adopt a discipline of inquiry and ingenuity. He was forever approachable and had a wonderfully engaging personality that belied his global status.
He received undergraduate and medical degrees at National Autonomous University of Mexico. While in medical school, he decided that he would make a "terrible clinician", as "he imagined that he would end up seeing only one patient per week, because he would always be too interested in every unknown detail of the case, trying to work out how medicines might act." As a result, when required to perform social service as a component of his training in medical school, he chose a research fellowship at the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología under Arturo Rosenblueth. There, he studied the electrical origins of ventricular fibrillation and became skilled at delicate laboratory work.
In 1955, he spent a summer at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood's Hole. There, he began his study of synapses in the common squid and began to see the importance of calcium in synaptic transmission. Around 1956/1957 Miledi conducted research in Canberra, Australia.
In 1958, he met frequent collaborator Noble Laureate Bernard Katz, who offered him a position in the Department of Biophysics at University College London. There, he studied the release of Acetylcholine (ACh) and the expression of its receptors. In the early 1960s, he again became interested in the role of calcium. He found that "in zero-Ca2+ medium, the nerve impulse still fully invades the nerve terminal, but does not release any neurotransmitter. And then as soon as you give a little Ca2+ , you get neurotransmitter release." He and Katz published a paper establishing the major role of Ca2+ in ACh release. Further work with squid contributed to an even better understanding of the role of Ca2+ in neurotransmitter release.
Miledi was elected as a fellow to the British Royal Society in 1970. During the early 1970s Miledi was a frequent research scientist during the summer months at the Stazione Zooalogica in Naples, Italy ostensibly as the local squid made excellent research specimen.
From the 1990s until his death he was Distinguished Professor at UNAM's Institute of Neurobiology, in Queretaro, Mexico. He also was a Distinguished Professor at University of California, Irvine; having joined the faculty in the early 1980s.
- "Obituary Notices". The Physiology Society. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Ricardo Miledi". www.sfn.org. Society for Neuroscience. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
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- Jeng, Jade-Ming (2002). "Ricardo Miledi and the calcium hypothesis of neurotransmitter release". Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Nature Publishing Group. 3 (1): 71–6. doi:10.1038/nrn706. PMID 11823807.
- "Royal Medal Winners: 2007 - 1990". Retrieved 2008-12-06.
- "Prince of Asturias Award".
- "Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience Recognizes Outstanding Contributions of Ricardo Miledi". Retrieved 2015-08-26.
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