Akiskal and the mystery of love

The Mystery of Love Solved

Love and biology are deeply entwined. Love can make a heart race and a lack of chemistry can turn romance into friendship. But just what is the nature of this link? Can biochemistry cause love?

Dr. Hagop Akiskal won the Ig-Nobel prize in Chemistry for trying to answer this very question. The Ig-Nobel prizes are organized by the Annals of Improbable Research and distributed by Nobel Prize winners. They are designed to celebrate research that “makes people laugh and then makes them think.” Akiskal’s work on how love looks a lot like obsessive-compulsive disorder does just that.

Akiskal is the director of the International Mood Center at the University of California, San Diego. Much of his career has been devoted to understanding and redefining illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder. These topics may seem a long way off from love, but after meeting Akiskal it is easy to imagine why he was drawn to researching romance. Part scientist, part poet, Akiskal has always been fascinated by love and determined to understand the things that fascinate him….

So begins Jennifer Rust’s portrait, for MySDscience, of 2000 Ig Nobel chemistry prize co-winner Hagop Akiskal.