The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for 2020 to Ardem Patapoutian (Scripps Research, La Jolla, US) and David Julius (University of California, San Francisco, US) “for their transformative discovery of receptors for temperature and pressure.”
Ardem Patapoutian identified a family of pressure-sensitive ion channels, the Piezos, which are key for pressure sensing in mammals. This discovery opened the door to understanding mechanobiology and to developing new treatments for neuropathic pain.
David Julius uncovered the sensory mechanisms of touch and pain and identified ion channels that respond to heating and cooling, TRPV1 and TRPM8, respectively. His discoveries led to the identification of a family of ion channels responsible for sensing specific temperature ranges, form painful cold to extreme heat. These temperature-sensing channels are now targets for the development of the new generation of targeted pain medications.
Photo courtesy of UCSF, Scripps Research.