Susan G. Amara Receives Julius Axelrod Prize
WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will award the Julius Axelrod Prize to Susan G. Amara, PhD, of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The Julius Axelrod Prize recognizes exceptional achievements in neuropharmacology or a related field and exemplary efforts in mentoring young scientists. The $25,000 prize, supported by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, will be presented during Neuroscience 2014, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
“Dr. Amara’s research has been crucial to greater understanding of the pathophysiology of mental illnesses and to the development of new interventions,” SfN President Carol Mason said. “But she is more than just an outstanding scientist. She is a tireless mentor of early career scientists and a leader across the field.”
Over the past three decades, Amara has greatly advanced knowledge of neurotransmitter transporters — the tiny proteins that shuttle signaling neurotransmitters back and forth across the cellular membranes of neurons. Her lab was the first to clone the human norepinephrine and dopamine transporters, which, along with the serotonin transporter, are among the most highly studied with respect to neuropsychiatric disorders and addiction. Amara’s study of glutamate transporters also led to new insight into the mechanisms by which neurotransmitter transporters regulate neuronal excitability. More recently, Amara has examined how psychostimulants and antidepressants affect the signaling properties, physiology, and regulation of neurotransmitter transporters.
In addition to her many scientific achievements over the course of her career, Amara has made mentoring future generations of scientists a priority. She has trained more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and held numerous leadership positions in professional societies, including serving as SfN president from 2010-2011. Amara earned her PhD at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently the scientific director of the Intramural Program at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Julius Axelrod was a longtime member of SfN and shared the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the actions of neurotransmitters in regulating the metabolism of the nervous system. His well-known work on brain chemistry led to current treatments for depression and anxiety disorders and played a key role in the discovery of the pain-relieving properties of acetaminophen. Throughout his career, Axelrod mentored dozens of young scientists, many of whom have gone on to have distinguished careers in neuroscience and pharmacology. He died in 2004 at age 92.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 40,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. More information about the brain can be found at BrainFacts.org, a public information initiative of The Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and SfN.