Catherine Dulac

Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

For deconstructing the complex behavior of parenting to the level of cell-types and their wiring, and demonstrating that the neural circuits governing both male and female-specific parenting behaviors are present in both sexes.


One of the greatest joys of being a scientist is to work with extraordinary talented students and postdocs, who are transforming hard work into an exciting scientific journey. Without them, none of the scientific accomplishments acknowledged by this award would have been achieved. I am also greatly indebted to people who helped me reach my dream of becoming a scientist: first, my parents who transmitted to me the love of knowledge and an insatiable curiosity for the unknown, the many excellent teachers who unraveled for me the innumerable wonders of biology and neuroscience, and my inspiring PhD and postdoc mentors, Nicole Le Douarin and Richard Axel, who taught me that great rigor, excellence and unbridled enthusiasm are the foundation of scientific discovery. Thanks also to Harvard and HHMI for placing their trust in me since I was an apprentice faculty, and to their remarkably skilled and supportive staff. Finally, I want to acknowledge my close collaborators who helped expand my scientific horizons and my colleagues throughout the world who I miss so much in this COVID time. Last, but not least, eternal thanks to my close friends and family who have helped me ride the rollercoaster of life in science.

Catherine Dulac