FAU’s Lawrence Toll Among World’s Most ‘Highly Cited Researchers’

Lawrence Toll, Brain Institute, Biomedical Science, Highly Cited Researcher, Clarivate, Web of Science

Lawrence Toll, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical science in the Schmidt College of Medicine and a member of the FAU Brain Institute. (Photo by Alex Dolce)

By gisele galoustian | 12/9/2020

Florida Atlantic University’s Lawrence Toll, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical science in the Schmidt College of Medicine and a member of the FAU Brain Institute, has been named by The Web of Science™ among its most Highly Cited Researchers™.  The annual list was recently announced by Clarivate™, a global leader in providing solutions to accelerate the lifecycle of innovation. Clarivate identifies researchers who have demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1 percent by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index. 

Data from the Web of Science, which is the world’s largest publisher-neutral index, includes nearly 1.9 billion cited references that go back to 1900. The methodology that determines the “who's who” of influential researchers draws on the data and analysis performed by bibliometric experts and data scientists at the Institute for Scientific Information™ at Clarivate. It also uses the tallies to identify the countries and research institutions where these scientific elite are based. 

This year, 6,167 researchers from more than 60 countries and regions have been recognized in the Highly Cited Researchers 2020, and 26 Nobel Laureates are listed, including three announced this year.

“Dr. Toll is internationally recognized for his research in the field of chronic pain and addiction, most notably as the co-discoverer of the neuropeptide ‘nociceptin,’ the fourth member of the opioid receptor family,” said Phillip Boiselle, M.D., dean of FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. “To be included among this prestigious ‘who’s who’ list, researchers must have demonstrated exceptional influence and performance in their fields. We couldn’t be more proud to celebrate and applaud Dr. Toll for this outstanding accomplishment.”

For the past 30 years, Toll has studied neurotransmitter receptors and neuropeptides in the brain, primarily opioid and nicotinic systems. His research on opioid receptors involves collaborations with medicinal and theoretic chemists to identify properties leading to abuse liability, as well as synthesis and characterization of non-addicting analgesics. His main interest is management of pain and drug addiction through pharmacology and new drug discovery. His basic research on opioid and NOP systems, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, as well as identification and characterization of endogenous neuropeptides, have opened new avenues of research and identified novel drug targets. In collaboration with medicinal chemists, Toll seeks to explore basic mechanisms and the biochemical basis of chronic pain and drug addiction, and to identify novel medications for both disorders.

Toll’s co-discovery of nociceptin has led to studies of the NOP/nociceptin system and investigation into this system involvement in both pain and reward. He pioneered the idea of a NOP/mu agonist as a potential analgesic with low abuse potential. With respect to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, he has developed selective ligands as potential smoking cessation medications. His laboratory has employed a variety of in vitro receptor binding and functional, behavioral, molecular biological, and imaging techniques.

Toll earned his Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he later served as a postdoctoral fellow. He accepted a second postdoctoral fellowship in pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University, where he worked with Solomon H. Snyder, D.Phil., D.Sc., M.D., a renowned neuroscientist. Toll has more than 150 publications to his credit and nine patents, issued or pending. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Defense.

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