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Harvard Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology names David D. Ginty head chair of Neurobiology

Harvard Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology is starting a new chapter on Aug. 1 with the appointment of David Ginty, the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology, as the next chair of the department. 

He will succeed Michael Greenberg, the Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology, who announced last November that he would be stepping down after 14 years as chair.

“The department stands for excellence and inclusion in neuroscience research, training, and education, and I am confident that David will further strengthen and evolve what is arguably the nation’s, if not the world’s, preeminent neurobiology department,” said HMS Dean George Q. Daley, announcing Ginty’s appointment to the HMS community.

Ginty becomes the seventh chair to lead the department, which was founded in 1966, introducing the field of neurobiology to the world. Today, the department includes 30 research laboratories that study neuroscience at the molecular, cellular, circuit, and systems levels, fueled by a commitment to address diseases of the nervous system.

“It is an honor and privilege to have been offered this opportunity to lead the department of neurobiology during this period of extraordinary discovery,” said Ginty. “Our department’s research, and the contributions we will make in the coming years, are certain to advance our understanding of the nervous system and the HMS mission of protecting and improving human health and training future leaders of the field.”

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, Ginty brings a wealth of experience and achievement to the position. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He is also the recipient of numerous research awards, including Columbia University’s W. Alden Spencer Award, the Julius Axelrod Prize from the Society for Neuroscience, and the Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience from MIT.

The focus of Ginty’s lab is to gain a greater understanding of the development, organization, and function of the peripheral nervous system and the spinal cord and brain circuits that underlie the sense of touch in health and disease.

Ginty received his PhD in physiology from East Carolina University School of Medicine in 1989 and did postdoctoral research on neuronal signaling mechanisms, first with John Wagner and then with Mike Greenberg at HMS. In 1995, he became a faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, returning to HMS in 2013 to join the Department of Neurobiology, part of the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.  

Since then, Ginty has served as associate director of the Harvard Program in Neuroscience and as a primary mentor to numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to independent faculty positions in academia and to industry.

In his announcement to the community, Daley thanked Greenberg “for his incredible vision and leadership of the department, and for being a thoughtful and trusted advisor to countless colleagues, including me.”

He added that Greenberg's “brilliance as a scientist, a leader, and a mentor, is woven into the fabric of HMS,” and said he was pleased that Greenberg will continue as a valued member of the HMS faculty and the neurobiology department, where his lab studies the underlying basis of developmental disorders linked to abnormalities in neural pathways and circuits in the human brain.    


About Harvard Medical School: 

Since the School was established in 1782, faculty members have improved human health by innovating in their roles as physicians, mentors and scholars. They’ve piloted educational models, developed new curricula to address emerging needs in health care, and produced thousands of leaders and compassionate caregivers who are shaping the fields of science and medicine throughout the world with their expertise and passion.

To nurture a diverse, inclusive community dedicated to alleviating suffering and improving health and well-being for all through excellence in teaching and learning, discovery and scholarship, and service and leadership.

Members of the Harvard Medical School community have also excelled in the research arena. Faculty members have been making paradigm-shifting discoveries and achieving “firsts” since 1799, when HMS Professor Benjamin Waterhouse introduced the smallpox vaccine to the United States. Their accomplishments are recognized internationally, and, in fact, 15 researchers have shared in nine Nobel prizes for work completed while at the School.

The Faculty of Medicine includes more than 11,000 individuals working to advance the boundaries of knowledge in labs, classrooms and clinics. The School’s main quadrangle in Boston houses nearly 200 tenured and tenure-track faculty members in basic and social science departments as well as in classrooms where students spend their first two years of medical school.

But teaching and research extend beyond the Quad. Harvard Medical School has affiliation agreements with 15 of the world’s most prestigious hospitals and research institutes, vital partners that provide clinical care and training. They also serve as home base for more than 10,000 physicians and scientists with faculty appointments.

With its vast reservoir of talent, extensive network of affiliates and commitment to problem solving, Harvard Medical School is uniquely positioned to steer education and research in directions that will benefit local, national and global communities.


About David D Ginty, PhD: 

A fundamental question in neuroscience is how we perceive and respond to our environment. Our laboratory uses mouse molecular genetics, circuit mapping, and electrophysiological analyses to gain understanding of the development, organization, and function of neural circuits that underlie the sense of touch. Mouse molecular genetic approaches are used to identify, visualize, and functionally manipulate each of the physiologically defined classes of low-threshold mechanosensory neurons (LTMRs), the primary cutaneous sensory neurons that mediate the sense of touch. We have also gained genetic access to neurons that receive and process LTMR inputs in the spinal cord and propagate this information to the brain. Our current goals are to discover: 1) unique functions and properties of LTMR subtypes; 2) the organization and logic of synaptic connections between LTMR subtypes, spinal cord dorsal horn interneurons and projection neurons, and dorsal column nuclei neurons; 3) ascending pathways that underlie the perception of touch, 4) cellular and circuit level alterations that underlie touch sensitivity deficits in autism spectrum disorders and neuropathic pain, and; 5) mechanisms by which primary somatosensory neurons and touch circuit organization are established during development.”





David D Ginty, PhD:

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