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Dr. Huda Akil

Huda Akil, Ph.D. is the Gardner Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry and the co-Director of the Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. Dr. Akil together with Dr. Stanley J. Watson and their colleagues have made seminal contributions to the understanding of the brain biology of emotions, including pain, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. She and her collaborators provided the first physiological evidence for a role of endorphins in the brain; and showed that endorphins are activated by stress and cause pain inhibition.

Dr. Akil’s current research investigates the genetic, molecular and neural mechanisms underlying stress, addiction and mood disorders. Along with Dr. Watson, she is the Michigan Site Director of the Pritzker Consortium, which is engaged in large-scale studies to discover new genes and proteins that cause vulnerability to major depression and bipolar illness. She is the author of over 500 original scientific papers, and has been recognized as one of the most highly cited neuroscientists by the ISI Citation Index.

Dr. Akil’s scientific contributions have been recognized with numerous honors and awards. These include the Pacesetter Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 1993 and the Pasarow Award (with S.J. Watson) for Neuroscience Research in 1994. In 1998, she received the Sachar Award from Columbia University, and the Bristol Myers Squibb Unrestricted Research Funds Award. She is also the recipient of the Society for Neuroscience Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award and the NARSAD Patricia Goldman-Rakic Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience (2007), the Koch Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2010). She has shared with Dr. Stanley Watson, the Thomas William Salmon Award in 2010, and the Institute of Medicine Sarnat Award in 2012.

In 1994, Dr. Akil was elected to the membership of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Science. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000.  In 2004, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2011 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Akil service includes membership of numerous boards and scientific councils. She has served on several national and international organizations to promote scientific and brain health awareness nationally and globally. She is the past President of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (1998) and the past President of the Society for Neuroscience (2004) the largest neuroscience organization in the world. She has co-chaired the Neuroscience Steering Committee for Biomarkers Development at the Foundation for the National Institute of Health; she has served two terms on the Council of the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences, and currently serves on the National Research Council (NRC) review board.