Neuroscientist Huda Akil Receives Julius Axelrod Prize
CHICAGO — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will present the Julius Axelrod Prize to Huda Akil, PhD, of the University of Michigan during Neuroscience 2019, SfN's annual meeting and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. Supported by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, the $25,000 Axelrod prize honors distinguished achievements in neuropharmacology or a related area in addition to exemplary efforts in mentoring young scientists.
“Dr. Huda Akil’s groundbreaking efforts to understand the neurobiology of emotions have provided fundamental insight into the impact of pain, stress, and anxiety on brain function and behavior,” SfN President Diane Lipscombe said. “She is also an inspiring leader with a deep commitment to mentoring who has fostered the next generation of scientists and helped to establish training goals for the field.”
Akil is the Gardner C. Quarton distinguished university professor of neuroscience and psychiatry and co-director of the Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. Over her exceptional career, she has made seminal contributions to the field of affective neuroscience. She provided the first physiological evidence for the existence and role of endogenous opioids in the brain. She and her colleagues have discovered the role of fibroblast growth factors in human depression. Her laboratory has developed new genetic animal models of temperament and shown their relevance to human disorders including mood disorders and addiction.
In addition to her impactful research, Akil has had a tremendous effect on the field by mentoring many neuroscientists at various stages of their career. She has also co-chaired an Institute of Medicine workshop that changed NIH training priorities.
She has received numerous awards, including the Pacesetter Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience, and SfN’s Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award. Akil is a past president of SfN and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The prize Akil is now receiving is named for Julius Axelrod, a longtime member of SfN who shared the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries on neurotransmitters. His work helped usher in the understanding that mental states are the result of physiology and brain chemistry and laid the groundwork for current treatments for depression and anxiety disorders. He also 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 developed their own distinguished careers in neuroscience and pharmacology.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.