Biomedical sciences, cell biology and chemistry professor James Rothman ’71 is a recipient of the prestigious $1 million Kavli Prize in neuroscience, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced Thursday.

While many psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression, involve the brain’s communication system, the mechanism behind this fundamental process was unclear until the discoveries of Rothman and prize co-recipients Thomas Südhof of the Stanford School of Medicine and Richard Scheller of the biotechnology company Genentech. Südhof and Scheller identified the molecules that control the release of neurotransmitters between nerve cells; Rothman showed that the same molecules control the transfer of other molecules between all animal cell types.

“The University is doubly proud that a member of our faculty, who is also a graduate, has received such a prestigious recognition,” University President Richard Levin said in a press release. “We look forward to future breakthroughs by Jim Rothman and his team from their center at our growing West Campus research complex.”

In addition to serving as chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Cell Biology, Rothman is the executive director of the West Campus’s Center for High Throughput Cell Biology.

Created in 2005 by the Norwegian-American philanthropist Fred Kavli, the biennially awarded Kavli Prizes honor scientists in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.