Professor Huda Akil is the Gardner Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry and Co-Director and Senior Research Professor at the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute of the University of Michigan.
Professor Akil was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Psycholinguistics from the American University of Beirut. In 1972, she obtained a Ph.D. in Neurosciences with a focus on Psychobiology under the direction of Dr. John Liebeskind at the University of California Los Angeles. From 1974-1977, she was a post-doctoral fellow in Neurochemistry with Dr. Jack D. Barchas in the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University. In 1978, she joined the University of Michigan as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Research Scientist in the Mental Health Research Institute. In 1987, she became Professor and Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health Research Institute, now known as the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, for which she has served as co-director (with S. Watson) since 1995.
Professor Akil is a neuroscientist who has pioneered research into the molecular and neural mechanisms that underlie emotions, including pain, anxiety, and depression. She applies knowledge gained from basic neuroscience to an understanding of substance abuse and psychiatric disorders, such as unipolar and bipolar depression, and she uses molecular genetic approaches to identify critical genes that influence susceptibility to mood disorders. She has published more than 450 journal articles, over 130 book chapters, and five monographs, and she is the holder of five patents.
Professor Akil has received numerous honors and awards in recognition for her work. She was elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the United States National Academy of Sciences (now the National Academy of Medicine) in 1994, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004, and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2011. In addition to receiving the most prestigious awards in neuroscience, such as the Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Award for Neuropsychiatric Research (1994) and the Bristol Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research (1998), she received the National Institute on Drug Abuse Pacesetter Award (1993), the Sachar Award from Columbia University (1998), the John P. McGovern Award in Behavioral Sciences from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006), the Society for Neuroscience Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), the Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience, NARSAD (2007), the Paul Hoch Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmcalogy (2010), the Thomas William Salmon Award (with S. Watson) from the New York Academy of Sciences (2011), the MIT Arab Students Organization Lifetime Achievement Award (2012), the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health with S. Watson (2012), and the Association of American Medical Colleges Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences (2013).
Professor Akil was named one of the 200 most influential psychologists and neuroscientists by the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Neuroscience in 2000 and one of the most-highly cited researchers in Neuroscience by ISI in 2002. She has served as President of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and President of the Society for Neuroscience, which is the world’s largest neuroscience organization. She has also served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of several organizations and on the Editorial Boards of numerous journals.
Professor Akil was elected to the ASL in 2015 for "ground-breaking contributions to neurobiology and psychobiology.”
Sample of Academician's Research
Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 (FGF2) is a natural antidepressant active in human and animal brains. It can modify each of the main variables that contribute to depression.
Jean-François BACH is Professor of Immunology at Necker Hospital in Paris. He has had a long-standing interest in organ transplantation and autoimmune diseases, notably insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and systemic lupus erythematosus. His main contributions include the description of E rosettes, the discovery of thymulin, a thymic peptide involved in T-cell differentiation, the description and characterization of regulatory T-cells in the non-obese diabetic mouse and the first demonstration of the therapeutic effect of cyclosporin A in recently diagnosed diabetic patients.
Professor Bach is a founding member of the ASL and also a member of the French Academy of Sciences.
Sample of Academician’s Research
Researchers hope to develop drugs thwarting inflammatory processes associated with neurodegenerative diseases and even rheumatism with the help of thymulin analogs.
Professor Kamal Badr was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1954. He attended elementary and high school at International College in Beirut and then obtained a B.S (with distinction) and then the MD degree (with distinction) from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1980. Following two years of residency at AUB Medical Center, he joined the Division of Nephrology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston under the mentorship of Dr. Barry Brenner, where he completed a research and clinical fellowship in nephrology. He was on the faculty at Vanderbilt University (1986 to 1992) and Emory University (1992 to 2000), following which he became Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the American University of Beirut (2000 to 2007). He was Founding Dean of the “Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine” at Lebanese American University, Byblos, Lebanon from 2007 until 2010. In 2010, he returned to the American University of Beirut as Professor of Medicine, Associate Dean for Medical Education, and Director of the Vascular Medicine Program.
Professor Badr’s initial inquiries focused on defining the mechanisms whereby inflammatory injury led to organ dysfunction in the kidney. Specifically, his research, which he conducted at Harvard, sought to define the link between the presence of inflammatory reactions in the renal glomerulus (filtering structure) and the attendant failure of filtration function which characterizes patients with ‘glomerulonephritis’, a disease affecting children and adults. His work led to the discovery that leukotrienes, vasoactive mediators of leukocyte activation, were central to that phenomenon. In the early eighties his laboratory was the first to identify the release mechanisms, hemodynamic actions, receptor characteristics, and signal transduction mechanisms for leukotrienes in these diseases. He then demonstrated in animal models, and later in human studies, that antagonism of leukotriene formation or receptor blockade led to marked salutary effects on renal function in animals and humans with glomerulonephritis, leading to large scale human trials.
During his work on leukotriene biology in the renal glomerulus, Professor Badr explored the potential role of a then newly discovered class of molecules formed through combined catalysis of arachidonic acid by 5 and 15-lipoxygenase enzymes, the lipoxins. His work was the first to demonstrate that these compounds were natural (endogenous) antagonists for leukotrienes in the kidney. Professor Badr’s laboratory demonstrated formally the precise mechanisms whereby these pathways not only acted in a “counter-regulatory” manner at the functional level, but also were endogenous competitors for the same receptor in renal cells and exerted opposing effects at several components of the inflammatory response. He further demonstrated in vitro the mechanisms governing the regulation of the expression and activity of the genes and products of the 5 and 15-lipoxygenase enzymes in the renal glomerulus and human leukocytes and demonstrated that selective in vivo transfection of one kidney with the 15-lipoxygenase gene was associated with marked improvement in renal function in that kidney during experimentally induced inflammatory injury. The discoveries on endogenous anti-inflammatory pathways in Professor Badr’s laboratory during the eighties and nineties were a major contributor to the emerging field of what was being rapidly appreciated as a new biology in inflammation, namely that this crucial biological response was, like many others, governed by an endogenous balance between pro and counter-regulatory pathways which can be exploited to develop new strategies for treating inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, dermatitis, and atherosclerosis. This area of human biology has now expanded markedly in breadth and depth, leading to the development of topical and systemic molecules for the treatment of human diseases characterized by undesirable inflammatory reactions.
During his work on the regulation of the 15-lipoxygenase enzyme in human leukocytes, Professor Badr discovered the highly selective induction of this enzyme by the T-cell derived cytokine, interleukin-13. Furthermore, closer study of the regulation of its gene expression led to a series of studies which uncovered an unexpected interaction between 15-lipoxygenase and the tumor suppressor gene p53, the genes for both of which were localized in overlapping proximity on chromosome 17. These discoveries led to a series of studies in Professor Badr’s laboratory in the mid-to-late nineties which demonstrated that 15-lipoxygenase regulated the expression of p53 in vivo and that this regulation proposes a role for the 15-lipoxygenase pathway in carcinogenesis. These discoveries uncovered a new role for this pathway in prostate cancer in humans.
Professor Badr was elected to the ASL in 2009 for "having discovered the pathophysiologic role of eicosanoids in glomerulonephritis, leading to novel therapies for this disease in humans."
Sample of Academician’s Research
Having previously demonstrated that the enzyme 15-lipoxygenase (15-LOS) is induced by mutant forms of the tumor suppressor gene p53 [ Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 96(8): 4378-4383, 1999], Professor Badr’s laboratory demonstrated that injection of prostate cancer cells (PC3) into mice resulted in very large tumors when cancer cells also carry the 15-LOS gene (mice in panel C above), average sized tumors in mice injected with the cancer cells and a mock 15-LOS gene (panel B) and very small or no tumors when mice are injected with cancer cells having an “anti-sense” molecule which antagonizes 15-LOS (panel A). These in vivo results demonstrated that the 15-LOS enzyme plays a role in promoting cancer growth.
Professor Georges Bahr
Georges Bahr is currently Provost and Professor of Immunology and Virology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Balamand in Lebanon. Prior to his appointment as Provost, he served first as Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and subsequently as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Balamand.
Professor Bahr received a Bachelor and a Master of Sciences from the American University of Beirut, a PhD from the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London University, and a Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists in London. He
He started his scientific career at the Pasteur Institute in Paris developing the concept of immunotherapy in the management of chronic infections and tumors. His experimental findings were successfully translated, in 1986, into clinical testing for the immunotherapy of tuberculosis in Kuwait where he served as consultant to the Ministry of Public Health and as Associate Professor at the Medical School in Kuwait University. In the early nineties, Professor Bahr joined Sandoz Research Institute in Vienna as Head of Program, and his research was focused on the immunotherapy of chronic viral infections including HIV and Hepatitis C. After becoming the Head of the HIV Department at the Pasteur Institute in Lille in 1996, Professor Bahr’s research targeted the identification of synthetic immunomodulators capable of blocking viral replication. This work has led to a series of patents and to the ongoing clinical evaluation of a new generation of immunotherapeutics. More recently, Professor Bahr has directed his research efforts towards the molecular analysis of the mechanism of action of synthetic immunomodulators and to the identification of novel cellular genes mediating innate immunity. His research activities were heavily funded by European academic and governmental institutions, as well as by pharmaceutical industries, and had lead to over 100 original publications and several book chapters.
Professor Bahr has been a member of the international review panel of several scientific and medical journals, a keynote speaker at prestigious conferences, organizer of international symposia, and inventor or co-inventor of 19 patents. His scientific achievement was awarded the Euroscience Rammal prize in 2004. He served as external consultant to the strategic committee of international affairs at the French Academy of Sciences, as member of the scientific board of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, and as member of the review and funding committee of the framework program 6 in life sciences at the European commission in Brussels.
Professor Bahr is a founding member of the ASL.
Sample of Academician’s Research
Dr. Catherine Bréchignac is an Officer of the Légion d'honneur, President of the International Council for Science and former president of the CNRS ("National Centre for Scientific Research"), Europe's largest scientific body. As a president of the CNRS, she was responsible for 25,000 employees, 12,000 of whom are researchers, and a budget of 2.42 billion Euros.
Daughter of the physicist Jean Teillac and alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-aux-Roses, Catherine Bréchignac received her DEA (Masters-level qualification) at the Faculté des sciences d'Orsay in 1971, her doctorate in 1977, and became a Research Director in 1985. In 1989 she became director of the Aimé Cotton laboratory, and was Director General of the CNRS from 1997 to 2000. She clashed with Claude Allègre, the minister at the time, over reforms she oversaw at the institution. She became President of the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée ("Institute of Optical Theory and Practice") in 2003 and of the Palais de la découverte ("Palace of Discovery") in 2004. In 2005 she was elected future president of the International Council for Science. She was appointed President of the CNRS at the Council of Ministers of 11 January 2006 on the recommendation of François Goulard, the minister for higher education and research.
Dr. Bréchignac was elected to the ASL in 2009.