Scripps Research professor and neurobiologist Ardem Patapoutian, PhD, has been awarded the 2021 Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biology and Biomedicine by the Spanish foundation BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A).
Patapoutian is honored for identifying protein sensors that enable humans to feel pain, temperature and pressure. He shares the award with David Julius, PhD, of University of California, San Francisco, who identified the gene encoding the first temperature sensor.
Patapoutian discovered pressure-sensitive proteins, known as PIEZO1 and PIEZO2, that enable the sense of touch in sensory neurons and underlie the function of many other tissues and cell types. This key discovery a decade ago set off a cascade of additional findings that continue to shed light on how to treat a variety of diseases, from malaria and heart failure to chronic pain.