Campus Messages

An archive of email messages sent to the entire UCSF community by the Chancellor and members of the Chancellor's Cabinet.

David Julius, PhD Receives 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to share the news that UCSF Professor David Julius, PhD, has been named to receive the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He shares the prize with Ardem Patapoutian, PhD, at Scripps.

David, who chairs the Department of Physiology, was honored for his groundbreaking work in understanding the molecular basis of pain. Through his years at UCSF, David has spearheaded some of the major advances in the field through his identification and characterization of a unique class of nerve-cell ion channel receptors known as TRP (“trip”) receptors.

In that work, David has used distinctive molecules from the natural world – tarantula toxins and the capsaicin molecule that produces the “heat” in chili peppers, for instance – to gain an understanding of how signals responsible for temperature and pain sensation are transmitted by neural circuits to the brain. This work has stimulated significant research among scientists who aim to better understand and treat chronic pain, placing him among the world’s most cited scientists.

David’s work was driven from the start by the great need for effective pain medications without the side effects and addictive potential of opioid drugs. His research has led to significant interest in TRP channels as potential targets for new painkillers. As such, he offers a perfect example of the importance of basic research in understanding both health and disease. More details on his work can be found on our website.

Please make time to join me for a virtual celebration at noon today to celebrate David and his scientific accomplishments. I hope you will join me in congratulating David for this well-deserved honor.

Sincerely,

Sam Hawgood, MBBS
Chancellor
Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professor