Message from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Dec 7 2022):
We announce the retirement of our colleague and friend, world renowned neuroscientist Solomon Snyder, distinguished professor emeritus of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Sol officially retired in August, after more than 55 years of service to the Johns Hopkins community.
Sol received his M.D. from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1962 at age 23. From 1963 to 1965, he was a research associate at the National Institute of Mental Health, and he later joined the Johns Hopkins family, first as a resident in psychiatry, and then as an assistant professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. In 1970, at age 32, he was the youngest full professor in the history of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a designation attained in both departments. Thus began a nearly six-decade tenure filled with remarkable discoveries and accomplishments.
Sol is a legend in neuroscience and the father of molecular pharmacology and molecular neuroscience. Working with his Johns Hopkins colleagues, he devised the reversible ligand-binding process, during which brain cells are ground up and the mixture is washed with radioactively tagged neurotransmitter molecules — the messengers that brain cells use to “talk” to one another. This approach became known as the “grind and bind” technique, and Sol used it to identify many of the major neurotransmitters in the brain. The work included the revolutionary discovery of endogenous opiate receptors in the brain, for which he won the 1978 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. Sol also identified and defined the pharmacology of the GABA receptor, to which the drug diazepam attaches; the adenosine receptor, which caffeine blocks to cause mental stimulation; the bradykinin receptor, which transmits pain; and the dopamine receptor, to which antipsychotic drugs attach. One of the most highly cited scientists in biology and biomedical sciences, Sol and his research team also discovered that gases can serve as neural messengers. Together, his discoveries have unraveled many mysteries of how the brain works, and they led to development of medications for a wide variety of conditions.
Sol founded Johns Hopkins’ neuroscience department, which was among the first in the nation, and led it until 2006. Named for him, it remains one of the top neuroscience departments. Sol is recognized as a truly exceptional mentor who has guided medical and other graduate students, postdoctoral trainees and innumerable faculty members at the school of medicine to become leaders in their fields.
Sol received honorary degrees from Northwestern University, Georgetown University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Albany Medical College, Technion University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of Maryland, Charles University in Prague, Ohio State University, Medical College of Wisconsin and The Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. In addition to the Lasker Award, he received numerous other awards, including the National Medal of Science — the nation’s highest scientific honor. President George W. Bush presented the medal during a White House ceremony.
Please join us in congratulating Sol on his outstanding contributions during his extraordinary career.
Theodore L. DeWeese, M.D.
Interim Dean of the Medical Faculty
CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Richard L. Huganir, Ph.D.
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor
Director, Department of Neuroscience
Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine