Neuroscience pioneer Dr Edward R. Perl has passed away at age 88.

Perl was the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor Emeritus of cell and molecular physiology at UNC School of Medicine.

Dr. Edward R. Perl

Dr. Edward R. Perl

His groundbreaking work more than three decades ago identified a particular class of nerve cells that respond exclusively to pain. His discovery paved the way for research into pain-relieving drugs that block their function.

Perl was instrumental in the formation of the Society for Neuroscience and served as acting president in its first year of existence from 1969 to 1970.

He also established the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, which includes a $10,000 award in recognition of significant achievements in neuroscience. Four past recipients went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.

He is survived by his wife, children, and grand daughters as well as many students and colleagues.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, through the Medical Foundation of NC, 880 MLK Jr. Blvd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514.