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Dr. Solomon Snyder to be Awarded National Medal of Science

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Press Release

Dr. Solomon Snyder, longtime NIMH grantee and director of the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, will be awarded the National Medal of Science by President Bush at a White House ceremony March 14th. He will be among eight recipients selected by the National Science Foundation to receive the nation’s highest science honor.

Snyder has for decades pioneered discoveries about communication mechanisms within and between brain cells. His discovery of the brain’s opiate receptor in the early l970s was recognized with a Lasker Award and is widely credited with launching a generation of research into neuropeptides, receptors and behavior.

Although he trained as a psychiatrist, Snyder’s career has focused mostly on neuropharmacology, seeking the cellular mechanisms by which neurotransmitters and drugs alter brain function. His findings sometimes upset the scientific applecart. His lab was one of the first to demonstrate multiple opiate receptors in the brain and to identify their unique roles. More recently, his lab uncovered important roles for gaseous neurotransmitters, such as nitric oxide and carbon monoxide, in neural communication. His most recent studies have revealed a novel pathway pivotal for normal cell death and he has proposed a strategy for blocking this process, with potential implications for treatment of psychiatric disorders.

A native of Washington, D.C., Snyder first came to NIMH as a college student to work with Dr. Seymour Kety in the NIH Clinical Center. He graduated from Georgetown University Medical School at age 23 and then apprenticed in the NIMH laboratory of Dr. Julius Axelrod (who later was awarded the Nobel Prize) before beginning a psychiatric residency at Johns Hopkins in l965. He never left, becoming a full professor by l970 and since l980 Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry and director of the Department of Neuroscience. Among many honors, Snyder is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of its Institute of Medicine.

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About the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the NIMH website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website .