McLean Hospital Chief Scientific Officer Earns Julius Axelrod Prize

January 16, 2014

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) awarded the Julius Axelrod Prize to Joseph T. Coyle, MD, chief scientific officer and chief of the Center of Excellence in Basic Neuroscience of McLean Hospital. The Julius Axelrod Prize recognizes exceptional achievements in neuropharmacology and in mentoring young scientists. The $25,000 prize was awarded during Neuroscience 2013, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. The award is supported by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.

“Dr. Coyle is an outstanding neuroscientist and psychiatrist who has devoted his career to probing the underlying causes of psychiatric disorders and proposing innovative therapeutic interventions,” said Larry Swanson, PhD, president of SfN. “At the same time, he has demonstrated a life-long commitment to training researchers and clinicians alike.”

Coyle’s research has contributed greatly to the understanding of the neuronal changes associated with psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and suggested novel therapies to treat them. Coyle demonstrated that changes in a particular group of cells in the basal forebrain are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, opening up a new avenue treatment. Coyle’s current research focuses on the negative symptoms and cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia.

Over his career spanning more than 40 years, Coyle has played an active role in mentoring a host of basic neuroscientists and clinicians. During this time, he has been especially dedicated to increasing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences. Coyle earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently a professor at Harvard University Medical School, where he holds the Eben S. Draper Chair of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.

Julius Axelrod was a long-time 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.

The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of nearly 42,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.

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