Solomon Halbert Snyder (born December 26, 1938) is an American neuroscientist who is known for wide-ranging contributions to neuropharmacology and neurochemistry. He studied at Georgetown University, and has conducted the majority of his research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Many advances in molecular neuroscience have stemmed from Dr. Snyder's identification of receptors for neurotransmitters and drugs, and elucidation of the actions of psychotropic agents, making him one of the most highly cited biologists in the world. He is most famous for his research on the opioid receptor, for which he received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1978.
Solomon Snyder was born on December 26, 1938 in Washington D.C. He is one of five children.
Snyder and his wife Elaine, who died in 2015, have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Education and early career
Snyder attended Georgetown University from 1955 to 1958 and received his M.D. degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1962. After a medical residency at the Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, he served as a research associate from 1963 to 1965 at the National Institutes of Health, where he studied under Julius Axelrod. Snyder moved to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to complete his residency in psychiatry from 1965 to 1968. He was appointed to the faculty there in 1966 as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology. In 1968 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry and in 1970 to Full Professor in both departments.
His laboratory is noted for the use of receptor binding studies to characterize the actions of neurotransmitters and psychoactive drugs.
He is also known for his work identifying receptors for the major neurotransmitters in the brain, and 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.
Work with Candace Pert
Candace Pert was a Ph.D. student in Snyder's lab. She was one of the principal laboratory members conducting the research that led to the discovery of opioid receptors. In 1978 Snyder shared the Lasker Award in Basic Biomedical Research with John Hughes and Hans Kosterlitz for this research.
Pert felt that she had been denied credit for her own work when she was not included as a Lasker Award recipient with Snyder. In response, she wrote a letter to the head of the Lasker Foundation, attributing her exclusion in part to being a woman, and causing a sensation in the field.
Presently he is University Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1980, he founded the Department of Neuroscience, and served as its first director from 1980 to 2006. In 2006, the department was renamed as The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience in his honor. Dr. Snyder is also the Director of Drug Discovery at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development in Baltimore, MD.
In 1980, he served as the President of the Society for Neuroscience. He is also Associate Editor, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. He helped start the companies Nova Pharmaceuticals and Guilford Pharmaceuticals, and has been an active philanthropist.
He is listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the 10 most-often cited biologists and he also has the highest h-index of any living biologist.
- Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1978): In 1973, he co-discovered the opioid receptor and later identified the existence of normally occurring opiate-like peptides in the brain.
- Wolf Prize (from the President of Israel in 1983)
- Bower Award of the Franklin Institute (1992)
- National Medal of Science (2003)
- Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (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 Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
- Holden, Constance (1991). Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. p. 1485. JSTOR 2884974.