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 »

A new factor in depression? Brain protein discovery could lead to better treatments

Study in humans & rats shows more physical changes in depressed brains

September 8, 2015

FGF9 Neurons
The green cells show where an injected virus was used to block production of FGF9 in rat brains.
Low. Down. Less than normal. That’s what the word depression means, and what people with depression often feel like. But sometimes, depression can mean too much of something – as new research shows.

The discovery, about a protein called fibroblast growth factor 9 or FGF9, goes against previous findings that depressed brains often have less of key components than non-depressed brains.

In this case, people with major depression had 32 percent more of FGF9 in a key part of their brain than people without the condition. In rats, raising FGF9 levels artificially led to depression-like behavior changes, and repeated social stress caused brain FGF9 levels to rise.

Taken together, the findings provide more evidence that depression is a physical illness. If FGF9 or its effects prove to be a good target for drugs, the finding could eventually help lead to better medications for the mental health condition that affects millions of Americans.

Read the full article at UofMHealth.org »
Read the publication abstract at PNAS »

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 »