The Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2023 Gruber Neuroscience Prize to Huda Akil for major contributions to the identification of the neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms that underlie a wide range of neuropsychiatric conditions such as stress, pain, depression, and drug addiction.
Akil was the first to provide experimental evidence supporting the existence of endogenous opioids and their roles, together with their receptors, in regulating pain and stress. She also initiated studies on the molecular underpinnings of mood disorders by identifying the involvement of fibroblast growth factor family members in depression. Her work on rodent models of mental disorders has been validated in translational studies defining genome-wide expression profiles in postmortem human brains.
In addition to scientific contributions that have transformed the field of the neurobiology of mental diseases, Akil has made many generous contributions to the neuroscience community, including mentoring future generations and illustrating the importance of socio-cultural transitions experienced by immigrants in the scientific community.