Growing up, Lawrence Toll dreamed of being a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It turns out, I’m better in science” than baseball, says Toll, an internationally recognized neuroscientist who has done groundbreaking research in drug addiction and pain management. Toll is a professor at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and investigator at the FAU Brain Institute.
His career path in science began in 1978 when he earned a Ph.D. from the UCLA School of Medicine, followed by postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, with world-famous neuroscientist Solomon Snyder. Just before his 30th anniversary at SRI International in 2011, a research center in California, Toll joined Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in Port St. Lucie, Fla. as director of the neuropharmacology program.
Now Toll is FAU’s first recruit under the 21st Century World Class Scholars program designed to recruit and retain top faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to Florida universities. Toll is the president-elect of the International Narcotics Research Conference, one of many organizations he has been with for decades.
Toll says FAU is a good environment for research and he’s eager to collaborate with colleagues like Janet Robishaw, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Science and senior associate dean for research at the College of Medicine, and Randy D. Blakely, Ph.D., executive director of the FAU Brain Institute. “Janet’s work is synergistic to what I do, looking at opioids with respect to genomics,” Toll says. “It’s possible we could work together on the mechanisms behind opioids. Randy works on ion channels and serotonin, and I work on pain and pain pathways, so it’s possible we could work on new compounds that target each.”
While Toll may not have landed his boyhood dream to be a major-league pitcher, his success as a major-league scientist will continue at FAU where, Toll says, “It’s all possible.