Pain Researcher David Julius Wins 2020 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience

UCSF Scientist David Julius Has Revealed Molecular Sensors for Heat, Cold, Inflammation and Itch

UC San Francisco biochemist David Julius, PhD, has been awarded the 2020 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for his foundational work describing the molecular machines that allow us to feel heat, cold, inflammation and related physical sensations. His research has opened up new avenues for the development of safe, targeted painkillers that researchers hope will avoid the addictive properties and other side effects of opioids.

Julius, professor and chair of the Department of Physiology at UCSF, shares the prize with Ardem Patapoutian, PhD, a professor at Scripps Research and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. The two received the prize, which carries a cash award of $1 million, “for their transformative discovery of receptors for temperature and pressure,” according to a citation by The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Members of the Academy choose the winners of the biennial Kavli Prizes, in neuroscience, astrophysics, and nanoscience, which were first awarded in 2008 by the Los Angeles-based Kavli Foundation.

“The individual discoveries of David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian have given the scientific community the molecular and neural basis for thermosensation and mechanosensation that is revolutionizing our understanding of sensory detection and will have a profound impact on addressing health and disease worldwide,” said the University of Oslo’s Kristine B. Walhovd, PhD, chair of the Norwegian Academy’s Kavli Prize Committee in Neuroscience.

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