Michel Hamon wins 2017 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award

Press release: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP)

1 April 2017


Michel Hamon’s exceptional research contributions to the science of serotonin recognised by the 2017 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award

The European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) is pleased to announce Michel Hamon as the recipient of the 2017 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award in recognition of his ground-breaking work on serotonin, a substance important for mood, and the role of the brain receptors for serotonin in the treatment of psychiatric illness with medicines such as antidepressants. The ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award is presented annually and recognises distinguished research in applied and translational neuroscience.

Director of research at the French Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM) and professor of neuropharmacology at Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris VI), Michel Hamon has been at the centre of European serotonin research for forty years. His pioneering studies on these receptors and their functional implications have led to major advances in our understanding of sleep regulation, anxiety, alcohol dependence, pain, and associated depression-like behaviours.

Michel Hamon began his career with a PhD on biochemical regulatory mechanisms of 5-HT synthesis under Jacques Glowinski at the Collège de France, with important work quickly following on 5-HT-acting drugs (LSD, methiothepin, metergoline, quipazine, azapirones, SSRIs and others) and their effects on central neurotransmission.

He did the first quantitative studies of monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), a key regulator for seratonin and related neurotransmitters. His work allowed the first clear-cut demonstration of the existence of 5-HT receptor subtypes in brain, including in the living human brain. His group subsequently discovered highly specific antibodies that allowed the precise measurement of several 5-HT receptor types. More recent work has focused on the functional implications of these receptors, revisiting their roles in a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions and setting the stage for the application of 5-HT receptor pharmacology to new therapies of depression, anxiety-related disorders and chronic neuropathic pain.

These achievements have won widespread recognition, including the prestigious Antoine Lacassagne Prize from the Collège de France, the Sterling Prize from the University of Pennsylvania, the Pierre-Bois Prize from the University of Montreal, and the Paul Ehrlich Prize from the French Society of Medicinal Chemistry.

In announcing the award, ECNP Award Committee chair Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Germany, said, “Michel Hamon is one of Europe’s leading researchers in human brain function. He has been involved in every major breakthrough in the science of serotonin and has played a key role in shaping our overall understanding of serotonin’s role in brain function and treatment, providing a basis for many of the most commonly used medications for depression and anxiety today. We are very pleased to offer him this award.”

Michel Hamon will receive the award during the 30th ECNP Congress on 2-5 September 2017 in Paris, France, where he will deliver the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award plenary lecture.

The ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award recognises innovative and distinguished research achievements in applied and translational neuroscience. The award is granted each year, alternating between basic science and clinical research. The award is accompanied by a prize of €10,000, which the winner may share with junior collaborators.


ECNP is an independent scientific association whose mission is to advance the science of the brain, promote better treatment and enhance brain health. The annual ECNP Congress attracts some 5,000 scientists and clinicians from across the world to discuss the latest advances in brain research in Europe’s largest meeting on brain science. More information about ECNP, its aims and activities, can be found at www.ecnp.eu.

More information on the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award can be found at: www.ecnp.eu/ena-award


Tom Parkhill
ECNP Press Officer
Tel. +39 349 238 8191 (mobile)
E-mail: tom@parkhill.it