Stephen Waxman

 Yale University, USA

Stephen G Waxman, MD, PhD

Stephen Waxman is the Bridget Flaherty Professor of Neurology, Neurobiology, and Pharmacology at Yale University, and served as Chairman of Neurology at Yale from 1986 until 2009.   He founded the Neuroscience & Regeneration Research Center at Yale in 1988 and is its Director.  Prior to moving to Yale, he worked at Harvard, MIT, and Stanford.  At each stage of his remarkable career Waxman has made pivotal contributions to research on pain.

Building upon his experience working as a student with Patrick Wall,  Waxman has spawned a steady stream of discoveries that have explicated axonal conduction and the ion channel architecture of non-myelinated and myelinated nerve fibers in both the normal and injured nervous system.  He demonstrated increased expression of Na channels in demyelinated axons, identified the channel isoforms responsible for this remarkable neuronal plasticity, and delineated the roles of Na channels in axonal degeneration.  With a focus on the “holy grail“ of pinpointing molecules within the nervous system that could be targeted for pain relief without CNS side effects, Waxman produced a remarkable channel-by-channel dissection of the Na channels (and other channels) that underlie the firing the peripheral pain-signaling neurons.   His demonstration of aberrant Nav1.3 Na channel expression  and activity in DRG neurons after nerve injury was a major step forward.  He has made major discoveries on biophysics and physiology of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8,  His laboratory cloned and characterized Nav1.9,  establishing these  three “peripheral Na channels” as major players in pain. In parallel with his laboratory studies Waxman has  produced highly informative translational studies on pain.  His molecule-to-man studies on Inherited Erythromelgia combined molecular genetics and biophysics to definitively demonstrate the contribution of Nav1.7 to human pain.  He played a leading role in an international coalition that identified mutations of Nav1.7, Nav1.8, and Nav1.9 as risk factors for painful peripheral neuropathy. He has also capitalized on human IPSCs and dynamic clamp to identify and characterize pain resilience genes.   Waxman has also used atomic-level modeling to advance pain pharmacogenomics, first in the laboratory and then in the clinic in a paper that was accompanied by an editorial stating “there are still relatively few examples in medicine where molecular reasoning has been rewarded with a comparable degree of success”.  An entirely new class of medications for neuropathic pain, based largely on his work, is currently in Phase II clinical trials.


Waxman has published more than 800 scientific papers.  His H-index is 114 and his papers have been cited more than 40,000 times.  His many honors include the Tuve Award (NIH), the Distinguished Alumnus Award (Albert Einstein College of Medicine), the Wartenberg Award (American Academy of Neurology), the Middleton Award and the Magnuson Award from the Veterans Administration, and the Soriano Award from the American Neurological Association.  He was honored in Great Britain with The Physiological Society’s Annual Prize, an accolade he shares with Nobel Prize laureates Andrew Huxley, John Eccles, and Alan Hodgkin.  In 2018, Waxman received the Julius Axelrod Prize from the Society for Neuroscience.    In 2021 the AAN honored Waxman with the Mitchell Max Award in Neuropathic Pain.