David Julius

University of California, San Francisco

2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

For discovering molecules, cells, and mechanisms underlying pain sensation.


It’s an honor and thrill to receive the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. This award recognizes accomplishments of my research group and our collaborators, who together represent a team of talented, dedicated, and inspired men and women from around the globe. Indeed, basic biomedical research is pursued internationally by scientists who work across borders to make discoveries that satisfy our curiosity while laying foundations for improving human health. I’m proud to belong to this vibrant global community, which brings the world closer together through scholarship, collaboration and friendship. I’m also grateful to my family and the foundations and public institutions that support our work, including the National Institutes of Health and the University of California. Our goal is to uncover basic properties of the nervous system with an emphasis on determining how we sense pain, and how injury and disease lead to persistent pain syndromes. Many of us appreciate this problem first-hand and understand that chronic pain is debilitating, yet it remains a largely unmet medical and societal burden. I hope that our basic, curiosity-driven research will help to address this pressing need, and I thank the Breakthrough Prize Selection Committee for recognizing our work and the importance of pain research.

David Julius

Ceremony Acceptance Video

Breakthrough Prize Symposium Talks