David Julius (November 4, 1955) was an American biochemist. It is considered a pioneer in the molecular analysis of pain receptors.
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He was born in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn (USA) and graduated in Biology in 1977 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1984 he received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Berkeley. He is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
Julius is a member of many academies such as the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, or the National Academy of Arts and Sciences.
David Julius demonstrated the existence of a sensory neuron called a pain receptor, which would respond to physical or chemical stimuli whose intensity would cause pain in humans. Therefore, Julius supports that feeling pain is a specific and individual sensory modality.
Furthermore, Julius identified the TRPV1 channel as a neuronal receptor for noxious stimuli. Through this channel, chronic pain and neuro-inflammatory syndromes or those associated with arthritis, cancer and asthma can be treated.
He has received numerous awards, including the Kerr Prize in Basic Research from the American Pain Society (2006), the Zülch Prize for Neurological Research from the Max Planck Society (2006), the Edward Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience from MIT (2007), and the Alden Spencer Prize for Neuroscience from Columbia University (2007), the Julius Axelrod Prize from the Society for Neuroscience (2007) and the 2010 Prince of Asturias Prize for scientific and technical research with Linda R. Watkins and Baruch Minke.
In 2021, David Julius was awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge in the 2020 Biology and Biomedical category, along with Ardem Patapoutian, “for identifying receptors that allow us to perceive temperature, pain, and pressure.” Jury verdict “Temperature, pain, and pressure are part of our sense of touch, and perhaps the least comprehensible of the five human senses. Julius and Patabotian have unveiled the molecular and neural basis of thermal and mechanical sensations.”
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