Each year, the international NOMIS Foundation selects two notable academics as recipients of the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award, and this year Harvard professor Catherine Dulac is one of the honorees.

“This is terrific news, and more well-deserved recognition for the exciting and groundbreaking work that Catherine and her lab have been doing,” said Sean Eddy,  Ellmore C. Patterson Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and department chair

“Receiving the NOMIS Award was a great surprise and an auspicious start to the new year,”  said Dulac, the Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences and Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “Past NOMIS Award recipients include scholars from many different disciplines, including economics and anthropology as well as the life sciences, and from many different countries, so it is quite an honor to be singled out from such a diverse pool of candidates.”

The NOMIS Foundation’s announcement cited the Dulac Lab’s work on the health effects of social isolation, and the funds will enable further research in that vein.

“The project funded by NOMIS is very close to my heart: why do animals, including humans, seek and enjoy the company of other animals of their own species? And why is prolonged social isolation so hurtful both psychologically and health-wise both in animals and in humans?” Dulac said. “This is obviously a topic in many people’s mind in current pandemic times, when lockdowns and social isolation have become so prevalent.”

She added: “In my lab, we have been thinking about this problem for a while: the need to interact with others corresponds to a deep physiological need controlled by the brain, and we want to uncover the corresponding neural circuits using modern approaches of neuroscience.”