Damascus, SANA-Huda Akil is a neuroscientist, of Syrian origin, whose pioneering research has contributed to the understanding of the neurobiology of emotions, including pain, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
Akil was born in Damascus, Syria, where she was raised by a family that firmly believed in education, even for women.
She was inspired to pursue a life of science after reading a book on Marie Curie, the great physicist and Nobel Prize winner, that was given to her by one of the French nuns at the library.
She pursued her undergraduate degree at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. She entered university as a sophomore, on a scholarship that required her to earn straight A’s, which was especially difficult, since she was not fluent in English, however she fulfilled this requirement and graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Following graduation, Akil continued at the American University of Beirut with a teaching apprenticeship for a year before traveling to the United States to pursue further education at the University of Iowa, and soon she was accepted to the University of California Los Angeles to pursue her doctoral degree.
She is one of the seven leading scientists that comprise the Hope for Depression Research Task Force, who together have developed an exceptional research plan.
Akil is a Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished Professor of Neurosciences in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School.
She serves as co-director of the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience institute and the University of Michigan node of the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Disorders Research Consortium.
Throughout her career, she has been honored with numerous awards and membership to various societies, most notably she served as a past President of the Society for Neuroscience, the largest neuroscience organization in the world.