Julius, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, will join HHMI’s Board of Trustees.

David Julius
David Julius, PhD, has been elected an HHMI Trustee. Credit: Susan Merrill, UCSF

David Julius, PhD, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has been elected a Trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the largest private biomedical research institution in the United States. His appointment will begin on January 1, 2021.

Julius, a biochemist and molecular physiologist, studies the molecular mechanisms underlying sensations such as heat, cold, and pain. His lab has examined menthol, wasabi, capsaicin (the ingredient that makes chili peppers hot), and other natural products to discover how sensory nerves detect temperature, itch, and other sensations.

Julius considers mentorship an essential and fulfilling aspect of his career. In his 30 years on the faculty at UCSF, where he now serves as the Morris Herzstein Chair in Molecular Biology and Medicine and professor and chair of physiology, Julius has trained more than 40 graduate students and postdocs. Prior to 1990, Julius worked as a postdoc in the lab of HHMI Investigator Richard Axel at Columbia University. Julius earned his doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984 and his bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Julius’s work has earned international recognition as well as numerous honors and awards, including the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine and the Canada Gairdner International Award. He received the 2020 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience and the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for discovering molecules, cells, and mechanisms underlying pain sensation. Julius also serves on the Board of Directors of the Diablo Regional Arts Association, a nonprofit organization that brings performing arts and education to the California Bay Area.


HHMI is the largest private biomedical research institution in the United States. Our scientists make discoveries that advance human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. We also invest in transforming science education into a creative, inclusive endeavor that reflects the excitement of research. HHMI’s headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.

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