Huda Akil

University of Michigan

Primary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2011)


Dr. Huda Akil is the Gardner Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry and a Senior Research Professor in the Michigan Neuroscience Institute (MNI) at the University of Michigan.   Dr. Akil was born in Damascus, Syria, received her undergraduate education at the American University of Beirut, her PhD at UCLA and her post-doctoral training at Stanford University. Dr. Akil and her colleagues have made seminal contributions to the understanding of the brain biology of emotions, including pain, stress, anxiety and substance abuse. Her early work demonstrated the role of endorphins in pain and stress. Her current research investigates the genetic and neural mechanisms underlying addiction and mood disorders. Dr. Akil has mentored numerous students and postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to make remarkable contributions to neuroscience research, education and leadership. She has served on many national and international organizations to promote neuroscience discovery and brain health awareness locally and globally. Her contributions have been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including honorary doctorates. She is a past President of the Society for Neuroscience the largest neuroscience organization in the world. She is also an elected member of to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

The Akil lab is currently focused on understanding the interplay of genetics and environment in the development and functioning of neural circuits that control stress responses, anxiety, depression and drug addiction. Her laboratory addresses these questions at the level of genetics, gene expression and regulation, neuroanatomy and behavior, using both rodent models and human studies. She also part of two large Consortia - the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Research Consortium and the Hope for Depression Research Foundation Task Force.  These involve the coordinated research of several scientific laboratories  focused on understanding and translating the biology underlying  clinical depression and other psychiatric disorders.

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