White House presents Huda Akil, Ph.D., with National Medal of Science

October 24, 2023

Presented by President Joe Biden, this prestigious award recognizes Dr. Akil’s outstanding contributions to the “physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or social and behavioral sciences, in service to the Nation.”

At the ceremony, Dr. Akil was praised for her dedication to advancing the field of neuroscience and her tireless efforts to help those with addiction and mental illness. Her work has led to breakthroughs in understanding how the brain works and has opened new avenues for treating these conditions. Her work also played a crucial role in combatting our nation’s opioid epidemic.

Dr. Akil is currently the Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neurosciences, an MNI Research Professor, and a Professor of Psychiatry. She has spent most of her career at U-M building a wide-ranging research program with her scientific partner and husband, Stanley Watson, M.D., Ph.D., the Ralph Waldo Gerard Professor of Neurosciences, an MNI research professor, and professor of Psychiatry. Together, Drs. Akil and Watson led the Michigan Neuroscience Institute and its predecessor unit, the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, for 26 years.

Read the full article at Michigan Neuroscience Institute »

Dr. Huda Akil Receives 2023 Gruber Neuroscience Prize

Huda Akil, Ph.D., MNI Research Professor and Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neurosciences (Department of Psychiatry) was awarded the 2023 Gruber Neuroscience Prize for her pioneering contributions to understanding the molecular, neural, and behavioral mechanisms of pain, stress, depression and substance abuse.

April 14, 2023

The prize comes with a gold medal and an unrestricted cash award. It is sponsored by Yale University’s The Gruber Foundation(link is external), a charitable organization that recognizes excellence in science by highlighting fields with the potential to create a better world.

Dr. Akil’s research centers around the biology of emotion. “What makes you feel bad, and what are the mechanisms in the brain that counter these feelings?” Akil said. “Understanding this has been my life’s work.” This included the discovery that the brain had a natural way to block pain. This was the first physiological evidence for the presence of endorphins in the brain and their potential role in pain, stress, addiction, and affective behavior.

“I’m deeply honored, grateful, and stunned to receive the 2023 Gruber Prize for Neuroscience, said Dr. Akil. “Thank you to my husband Stan Watson for being my partner in science and in life and to our trainees, the wonderful Wakils. Also, thanks to MNI and the University of Michigan for being a wonderful scientific home, along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, and the Pritzker Consortium for supporting our research.”

Original article at Michigan Neuroscience Institute »

Huda Akil to receive prestigious Kuwait Prize in Basic Sciences

Foundation to honor Huda Akil, Ph.D., for her pioneering research in brain biology, depression and addiction

November 16, 2015

University of Michigan Medical School faculty member Huda Akil, Ph.D., is the recipient of the prestigious Kuwait Prize in Basic Sciences (Basic Medical Sciences) for 2015.

The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) established the Kuwait Prize in 1979 to support scientific researchers in various fields and to encourage Arab scholars and researchers. KFAS awards prizes in five fields: basic sciences, applied sciences, economics and social sciences, art and literature, and Arabic and Islamic scientific heritage. Recipients, who hail from Kuwait and other Arab countries, receive a cash prize, a gold medal, the KFAS shield, and a certificate of recognition.

Akil will receive the Kuwait Prize for Basic Sciences/Basic Medical Sciences from the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, during a Dec. 2 ceremony at the Salwa Hall in Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Read the press release at medicine.umich.edu »

Karl Deisseroth receives 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

November 8, 2015

Karl Dessiroth accepts Breakthrough Prize
Karl Deisseroth accepts the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Steve Jennings/Getty Images
The Breakthrough Prize and its founders Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, tonight announced the recipients of the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. A combined total of $21.9 million was awarded at the 3rd Annual Breakthrough Prize Awards Ceremony in Silicon Valley.

“By challenging conventional thinking and expanding knowledge over the long term, scientists can solve the biggest problems of our time,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “The Breakthrough Prize honors achievements in science and math so we can encourage more pioneering research and celebrate scientists as the heroes they truly are.”

The 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (five prizes, $3 million each) was presented to: Edward S. Boyden (MIT); Karl Deisseroth (Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute); John Hardy (University College London); Helen Hobbs (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute); and Svante Pääbo (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology).

Read the official press release at breakthroughprize.org »

Renowned neuroscientist Karl Deisseroth to receive Carnegie Mellon’s Dickson Prize in science

January 29, 2014

Carnegie Mellon University will award its 2013 Dickson Prize in Science to Karl Deisseroth, the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and Psychiatry at Stanford University. Deisseroth is best known for his contributions to optogenetics, a technique that has revolutionized how scientists study neurons in the brain.

Read the press release at Carnegie Mellon University »