Monell Center Researcher Awarded the 2021 Eppendorf & Science Prize for Work on Gut-Brain Studies

For immediate release
Contact: Karen Kreeger, kkreeger@monell.org

(PHILADELPHIA) Amber L. Alhadeff, PhD, an assistant member at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, has been awarded the 2021 Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology for her research on how gut-brain connections in the brain influence eating behavior.

Amber Alhadeff, PhD

The annual prize honors early-career scientists. Alhadeff is the 20th recipient of this international accolade. The winner is awarded $25,000, and has their essay published in Science. Read her article in Science here.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award,” said Alhadeff. “It is a tremendous jumpstart to my independent research career and a huge motivator for myself and my lab members.”

In recent research, the Alhadeff lab has found that, as we eat, such nutrients as fat and sugar trigger different gut-to-brain neural pathways to turn off activity in hunger neurons. This line of research on the neurobiology of hunger may have implications for therapies related to obesity and eating disorders. Her work helps answer such questions as why we behave differently when we have not eaten, how we know when to stop eating, how foods we eat influence our brain activity, and why we perceive the world differently when we are hungry or full.

“Amber Alhadeff described in a brilliant essay how neurons encoding hunger are modulated by what we eat and how they can change our behavior,” explained Peter Stern, PhD, senior editor at Science and chair of the Prize Jury. “Her research aids our understanding of how hunger changes our general perception of the world.”

Alhadeff received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, after which she joined the laboratory of J. Nicholas Betley at Penn for her postdoctoral training. In 2020, she joined the faculty at Monell, where her lab studies gut-brain signaling pathways underlying motivated behavior. She serves as a dedicated mentor to her trainees and an advocate for scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. She is also a recipient of a NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the L’Oreal USA for Women in Science Award, the Klingenstein-Simons Foundation Award in Neuroscience, and the American Heart Association Career Development Award.

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The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1968, Monell‘s mission is to improve health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding of taste, smell, and related senses, where our discoveries lead to improving nutritional health, diagnosing and treating disease, addressing smell and taste loss, and digitizing chemosensory data.