Huda Akil, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

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 has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the brain biology of emotions, including pain, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. She and her colleagues 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. She 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 with Dr. Stanley Watson, the Pasarow Award 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 Patricia Goldman-Rakic Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience (2007). In 1994, she 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.

Dr. Akil has served on numerous boards and scientific councils. 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 currently co-chairs the Neuroscience Steering Committee at the Foundation for the National Institute of Health and serves on the Council of the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences.