Joined the Scientific Council in 2002
Gardner Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry
Co-Director, Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute
University of Michigan
Dr. Akil has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the neurobiology of emotions, pain, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Early on, she and her colleagues provided the first physiological evidence for the role of endorphins in the brain and showed that endorphins are activated by stress and inhibit pain. While investigating the mechanisms underlying stress reactivity in anxiety and depression, she demonstrated that social defeat in rodents activates unique neural pathways resembling those altered in human depression. Dr. Akil currently is engaged in large-scale studies to discover new genes and proteins that cause vulnerability to major depressive and bipolar disorders.
Dr. Akil received a Ph.D in psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles and pursued her postdoctoral training at Stanford University. She also holds a master’s degree in Psycholinguistics from the American University of Beirut.
Foundation Prizes: 2007 Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience