27 March 2018

Markus Heilig, professor of psychiatry, has been awarded the Söderberg Prize in medicine for 2018. The prize of SEK 1 million is for his research into alcoholism and affective diseases.

markus heiligfoto: billesonMarkus Heilig's research projects include a clinical study that paved the way for the treatment of heroin addiction with the drug buprenorphine. One of his early research successes was the discovery of the body's antistress system, Neuropeptide Y, and the receptors that it interacts with.

In his research into alcohol, he has also studied a similar system related to stess, the Substance P system, and shown that it plays a role in controlling alcohol consumption. He has also examined the significance of the amygdala, a structure in the brain that plays a central role in the experience of feelings such as fear and anxiety that arise when alcohol consumption increases. Markus Heilig's current research is centred around processes that guide the choice between alcohol and healthy, natural rewards.Markus Heilig in the labProfessor Markus Heilig at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine Photo credit: Peter Holgersson

"It's an amazing honour, and I'm deeply humbled. Most of our work remains to be done. But I hope that the prize can set a spotlight onto the needs of addiction patients, and the ways in which these can be met through research," says Markus Heilig in a press release from the Swedish Society of Medicine.

Markus Heilig was appointed in 2015 professor at the Centre for Social and Affective Neuroscience (CSAN) in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine atLinköping University. His previous post had been as Clinical Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at the National Institutes of Health in the US.

"Markus Heilig is a highly deserving recipient of the Söderberg Prize in medicine. He is an internationally established and respected researcher within stress and addiction research, whose work has had, and continues to have, great significance not only within fundamental neuroscience but also within clinical applications in psychiatry and addiction care. It has resulted in approximately 250 peer-reviewed publications and around 10,000 citations," says Stefan Lindgren, of the Swedish Society of Medicine and chairman of the prize committee.

The Söderberg Prize is awarded by the Torsten Söderberg Foundation. It is awarded alternate years in medicine (in collaboration with the Swedish Society of Medicine), and in economy and jurisprudence (in collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences). The Söderberg Prize in medicine has a value of SEK 1 million and is awarded to leading researchers for work of high scientific value whose applications have become apparent during the past 10 years. A ceremony to award the prize will be held in conjunction with a seminar at the Swedish Society of Medicine later in the spring.


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