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The Department of Physiology Congratulates Dr. David Julius on Receiving the 2020 $3M Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

David Julius, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Physiology at UC San Francisco, is a winner of the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Julius, 63, received the prize “for discovering molecules, cells, and mechanisms underlying pain sensation,” according to the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. He is one of four researchers honored with this year’s life sciences award.

A biochemist and molecular biologist, Julius has made great strides in deciphering what’s behind our ability to sense heat, cold and chemical irritants – work that has offered new insights to scientists who aim to better understand and treat pain. One of Julius’ drivers has been the need for new drugs that could effectively treat pain without the side effects and addictive potential of opioid drugs.

“As a scientist, you want to understand the basics,” Julius said. “Ultimately, from the therapeutic perspective, identifying signaling molecules within pain pathways has relevance for drug design, because those are potential targets for the development of new treatments.”(more)