Earlier this month, two faculty members of the University Medical School received top awards from the Association of American Medical Colleges at a meeting in Philadelphia.

Huda Akil, who is a professor of neuroscience in psychiatry, won the Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences. Akil studies the biology of the brain with a particular focus on mood, emotions and addiction, both in humans and animals, in the hopes of developing possible treatments for psychiatric disorders.

Akil said she was “surprised and honored” to win the award and felt strongly that it was the shared efforts of her team as a whole that deserved recognition. She plans on continuing her research on the role of emotion because she believes it is still one of the least understood and important aspects of the brain.

“I feel that when emotions go wrong in a chronic way, when people feel stuck with their emotions, the price of that is really very high on the person themselves, on their family and on society in general,” Akil said.

The other award recipient was Gilbert Omenn, who received the David E. Rogers Award.

Omenn is a professor of internal medicine, human genetics, and public health and is director of the Center for Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics at the University. He said he was pleased to earn the recognition, because it’s a lifetime award that was named after a doctor whom Omenn knew personally.

“I actually worked directly with him, so that was really quite wonderful,” Omenn said.

The David E. Rogers Award was presented as a monetary prize as well as an engraved glass sculpture. Though Omenn could not specify exactly what he plans to do with the money at this time, he promises to donate it to a new or existing initiative at the University involving medicine and public health.

Omenn is currently looking forward to holding a leadership role in the Human Proteome Project, an international research goal similar to the Human Genome Project. Additionally, he and his colleague are competing for a grant toward their BigData project.

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