October 24, 2023

White House presents Huda Akil, Ph.D., with National Medal of Science

Earlier today, the White House awarded Huda Akil, Ph.D., a University of Michigan neuroscientist and former long-time Michigan Neuroscience Institute (MNI) Co-Director, the highest honor given to scientists in the United States -- The National Medal of Science

Presented by President Joe Biden, this prestigious award recognizes Dr. Akil’s outstanding contributions to the “physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or social and behavioral sciences, in service to the Nation.”

Huda Akil, Ph.D., is presented with the National Medal of Science by President Joe Biden.

At the ceremony, Dr. Akil was praised for her dedication to advancing the field of neuroscience and her tireless efforts to help those with addiction and mental illness. Her work has led to breakthroughs in understanding how the brain works and has opened new avenues for treating these conditions. Her work also played a crucial role in combatting our nation’s opioid epidemic.

Dr. Akil is currently the Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neurosciences, an MNI Research Professor, and a Professor of Psychiatry. She has spent most of her career at U-M building a wide-ranging research program with her scientific partner and husband, Stanley Watson, M.D., Ph.D., the Ralph Waldo Gerard Professor of Neurosciences, an MNI research professor, and professor of Psychiatry. Together, Drs. Akil and Watson led the Michigan Neuroscience Institute and its predecessor unit, the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, for 26 years.

Dr. Akil is the eighth member of the U-M faculty to receive the medal. Two other U-M Medical School faculty, both now deceased, have won the National Medal of Science: neuroanatomist Elizabeth Crosby, Ph.D. and geneticist James Neel, Ph.D. Current U-M faculty member Hyman Bass, Ph.D., won for mathematics research in 2012, and emeritus professor Robert Axelrod, Ph.D., won for political science and public policy research in 2014. Late U-M faculty members Horace Richard Crane, Ph.D., Donald Katz, Ph.D., and Emmett Leith, Ph.D. won for contributions in physics and engineering.

President Biden stated that Dr. Akil is a “groundbreaking scientist studying neurobiology and emotions.”

Please join MNI in thanking Dr. Huda Akil for her many contributions at large and to our local University of Michigan community and in congratulating her on this well-deserved honor!