Solomon Snyder Distinguished Biomedical Scholars Lecture Series (2/19/2015)

Solomon Snyder received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Georgetown University. Following an experience at the National Institute of Mental Health as a research associate under Nobel Prize winner Julius Axelrod, he would remain in Maryland to complete a residency in psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. There, finding inspiration in the creative aspects of research, he joined the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s staff in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Within the next decade, Snyder progressed in a number of fields, eventually founding the school’s Department of Neuroscience and serving as its first director. Today, he is a Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.

The Snyder laboratory studies various molecular mechanisms in the brain with a special focus on Huntington’s disease. Since discovering that the protein huntingtin becomes toxic to the brain when bound with the obscure protein, Rhes, the team has been working with the Cure Huntington’s Disease Initiative to screen drugs that would block this process with few side effects. The hope is that such a drug would be able to stop or at least delay the onset of the disease altogether.

Before tackling Huntington’s disease, the Snyder laboratory gained acclaim for their use of receptor binding studies to characterize the actions of neurotransmitters and psychoactive drugs, famously discovering the opioid receptor and the existence of naturally occurring opiate-like peptides in the brain.

A pioneer at the heart of countless advances in molecular neuroscience, Snyder has received numerous honors for his groundbreaking research, including the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Biomedical Research, the Wolf Prize in Medicine, the National Medal of Science, the Albany Prize in Medicine, and most recently, Harvard University’s Warren Alpert Prize. He is also a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.