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Johns Hopkins scientists receive presidential medals

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., and astrophysicist Riccardo Giacconi, Ph.D., have been named recipients of the 2003 National Medal of Science, the United States' top scientific recognition, the White House announced today.

The two will be the seventh and eighth Johns Hopkins faculty members to receive this honor. Giacconi and Snyder will receive the medals in a White House ceremony on Monday, March 14.

"Sol's and Riccardo's careers -- as scientists and as leaders of scientists -- have been nothing short of extraordinary," said William R. Brody, M.D., Ph.D., president of The Johns Hopkins University. "Though one seeks to solve the mysteries of the mind and brain and the other explores the universe, they are really very much alike: They are intensely curious. They are immensely creative. They are relentless in their pursuit of knowledge and truth. We are proud to be their colleagues."

Summaries of the work of these scientists are below.
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SOLOMON H. SNYDER, M.D.

Sol Snyder's research accomplishments range from the discovery of opiate receptors in the brain -- work for which he shared the prestigious Albert Lasker Award in 1978 -- to proof that gases can serve as neural messengers.

Many advances in molecular neuroscience have stemmed from Snyder's identification of receptors for neurotransmitters and drugs, which led to clarification of how psychotropic agents act in the brain. He pioneered the labeling of receptors by a process called reversible ligand binding, which led to his and colleagues' discovery of the opiate receptor, and he extended the technique to identify numerous other neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. In characterizing each new group of receptors, he also clarified the actions of major neuroactive drugs.

Snyder's techniques and discoveries have helped lead to rational design of new drugs to treat psychiatric and other diseases based on the rapid screeni
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