University of Wisconsin–Madison

Huda Akil, PhD

Co-Director and Research Professor, MBNI
Distinguished University Professor and Quarton Professor of Neurosciences,
Department of Psychiatry
University of Michigan


Emotions and Emotionality: Genes, Neural Circuits and Behavior

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 and her colleagues have made seminal contributions to the understanding of the brain biology of emotions, including pain, stress, anxiety and substance abuse. Her current research investigates the genetic and neural mechanisms underlying addiction and mood disorders.

Dr. Akil provided the first physiological evidence for a role of endorphins in the brain, and showed that endorphins are activated by stress and inhibit pain. Her laboratory has developed new genetic animal models of temperament and shown their relevance to human mood and addictive disorders.

Dr. Akil is the past President of the Society for Neuroscience (2004) the largest neuroscience organization in the world. Among her honors is her election to the US National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences.

She has received numerous awards. She shared with Stanley Watson the National Academy of Medicine Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health (2012) and the Gerald L. Klerman Award (2014).  She received the AAMC Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences (2013) and the Kuwait Prize in Biomedical Research (2015). She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, where she also was the commencement speaker (2017).