Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
2010 Laureates of Emet Prize
In Category: Life Sciences
In Field: Brain research
Prof. Moussa Youdim was born in 1940 in Teheran.
He completed his academic education at McGill University in Canada and in 1977 immigrated to Israel, where he was appointed head of the Department of Pharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion, Haifa.
In the past 50 years he has been an active researcher in the field of neuro-psychopharmacology. His achievements include a wide variety of scientific projects, among them the study of basic processes in the brain and the development of new medicines for the treatment of degenerative diseases. He was one of the first researchers to understand the significance of the enzymes monoamine oxidase A and B and their function, of oxidation processes in the brain and the iron metabolism in the process of dopaminergic and cholinergic neuronal cell death as well as the development of degenerative diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. These studies lead to the discovery of l-deprenyl (selegiline, the monoamine oxidase B inhibitor) as an efficient drug in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. He then discovered and developed, in cooperation with the Israeli pharmaceutical firm Teva, a second-generation drug that inhibits monoamine oxidase B, Rasagiline (Azilect), a unique medication that is today used as treatment for Parkinson’s disease both in Israel and worldwide (approved by the FDA).
His work in the field of brain research has established the use of monoamine oxidase A and B inhibitors as efficient treatment for psychiatric diseases. Many of his studies focus on the understanding of molecular mechanisms in the degenerative process of the brain as well as neuroprotective and neurorescue processes. He developed new multi-functional drugs with wide-ranging pharmacological effects, among them ladostigil (which is today in the second phase of clinical studies) and a series of iron chelating compounds.
His studies were published in over 500 scientific articles and won him many prizes and distinctions, among them the Hershel Riech Innovation Prize (awarded by the Techinion) and a life-time achievement award from the European College of Neuro-psychopharmacology, ECNP. He was recently made honorary professor at the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.