(Originally published by the Society for Neuroscience)
October 9, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will award the Julius Axelrod Prize to Pietro De Camilli, MD, of Yale University. The Julius Axelrod Prize recognizes exceptional achievements in neuropharmacology or a related field and exemplary efforts in mentoring young scientists. The $25,000 prize, supported by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, will be presented during Neuroscience 2015, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
“The Society honors Dr. De Camilli for his outstanding contributions to neuroscience, and especially to neuropharmacology, as well as his commitment to mentorship,” SfN President Steven Hyman said. “Dr. De Camilli has mentored a large number of students and young researchers, both in his lab and beyond, who have gone on to have successful independent careers in neuroscience and related disciplines.”
Over the course of his career, De Camilli has studied the steps involved in the release of neurotransmitters from pouches known as synaptic vesicles and the reformation of these vesicles inside nerve endings. He has characterized key molecular mechanisms involved in this cycle of membrane traffic and shown how these processes are regulated. Although De Camilli's work focused on how nerve cells communicate, his findings are applicable to other types of cells that communicate by releasing chemicals from vesicles and that also recycle their membranes. De Camilli has also made significant contributions toward understanding diseases of the nervous system that involve autoimmunity against synaptic proteins.
A native of Italy, De Camilli earned his MD from the University of Milano. He is currently the inaugural John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience and chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Yale University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. De Camilli is also the director of the Yale Kavli Institute for Neuroscience and a founding director of the Yale Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration, and Repair.
Julius Axelrod was a longtime member of SfN and shared the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the actions of neurotransmitters in regulating the metabolism of the nervous system. His well-known work on brain chemistry led to current treatments for depression and anxiety disorders and played a key role in the discovery of the pain-relieving properties of acetaminophen. Throughout his career, Axelrod mentored dozens of young scientists, many of whom have gone on to have distinguished careers in neuroscience and pharmacology. He died in 2004 at age 92.