Former SfN President Moses V. Chao Receives Julius Axelrod Prize
WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will award the Julius Axelrod Prize to Moses V. Chao, PhD, of New York University. The $25,000 prize, supported by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, honors distinguished achievements in neuropharmacology or a related area. The award will be presented during Neuroscience 2017, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
“The Society is pleased to recognize SfN past president and distinguished scientist Moses Chao with this year’s Axelrod Prize,” SfN President Eric Nestler said. “In addition to his seminal research contributions in neuronal growth and signaling, his exemplary efforts in providing public service as a teacher and mentor make him a genuine leader in the field.”
Chao is professor of cell biology, physiology and neuroscience, and psychiatry at NYU’s Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. His work has contributed significantly to the body of knowledge on nerve growth factors (NGFs) and receptor signaling and has yielded important discoveries in how neurotrophins nourish neurons, guide axons to form their proper connections, and promote their survival. Near the start of his career, Chao determined the identity of the p75 and TrkA receptors and demonstrated their roles in creating high affinity binding sites for NGF. Along with his team and others, he then identified downstream mechanisms that account for how growth factors affect neuronal survival and synaptic plasticity. Over the past decade, Chao has uncovered novel aspects of downstream signaling for brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and the TrkB receptor, which are relevant to neurodegeneration, learning, and memory. Primary goals of his lab are to identify biochemical steps in signaling by trophic factors and to understand how specificity is encoded in cell-cell communication in the nervous system.
In addition to his prolific research portfolio, Chao’s service to the neuroscience community has defined his career. Chao has trained and mentored numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have gone on to lead distinguished careers of their own. Apart from his professorships at NYU, Chao has taught molecular neurobiology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and served as an SfN president and as an editor for JNeurosci. He has been previously recognized with a Zenith Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 37,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.