Accelerating Breakthrough Discoveries into Medicines

Solomon H. Snyder, MD, DSc, DPhil

Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Snyder’s laboratory is noted for the molecular identification of receptors to characterize the actions of neurotransmitters and psychoactive drugs. In 1973, with then-graduate student Candace Pert, Dr. Snyder discovered the opioid receptor and later identified the existence of normally occurring opiate-like peptides in the brain. Dr. Snyder is also known for his work identifying receptors for the major neurotransmitters in the brain, in the process explaining the actions of psychoactive drugs, such as the blockade of dopamine receptors by antipsychotic medications. He has described novel neurotransmitters such as the gases nitric oxide and carbon monoxide and the D-isomers of amino acids, notably D-serine.

For his work, Dr. Snyder has been awarded the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1978; the Wolf Prize from the President of Israel in 1983; the Bower Award of the Franklin Institute in 1992; the National Medal of Science in 2003; and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research in 2007. He is the recipient of nine honorary doctorates and has been elected to honorific societies including the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, and the American Philosophical Society. In 1980, Dr. Snyder served as the President of the Society for Neuroscience. He is also Associate Editor for PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). He co-founded the companies Nova Pharmaceuticals and Guilford Pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Snyder attended Georgetown University and received his MD from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1962. After a medical internship at the Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, he served as a research associate from 1963 to 1965 at the NIH followed by psychiatry residency at Johns Hopkins, where he was appointed to the faculty in 1966 as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology. He subsequently became Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, and then Full Professor in both departments.

In 1980, he founded the Department of Neuroscience, and served as its first director from 1980 to 2006. In 2006, the department was renamed The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience in his honor.