Louis F. Reichardt, Simons Foundation

TITLE: Director, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

FUNDING AREAS: autism research

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: A mountain climber, neuroscientist, and inspiration for the 1991 movie K2, Louis Reichardt excels at pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and capability. With seemingly boundless energy and optimism, and an impressive background in brain research, this Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) leader guides the foundation in its mission of understanding and treating autism. His foundation bio shares: 

Louis Reichardt joined the foundation to lead SFARI in 2013. Prior to assuming this post, he was the Jack D. and DeLoris Lange endowed chair in cell physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, where he had directed its renowned neuroscience graduate program since 1988. A Fulbright scholar with an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, Reichardt was a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes investigator for more than 20 years.

The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 1985, he is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was one of three founding editors of the journal Neuron and is a senior editor of the Journal of Cell Biology. He serves on the editorial boards of several other journals as well as the scientific advisory boards of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis Foundation and the Myelin Repair Foundation.

Reichardt’s research has focused on neurotrophins, a family of proteins that play a key role in neuron functioning, and on another family of proteins that promote the adhesion of nerve cells to each other. He has made major contributions to the study of intracellular signaling pathways that mediate the effects of these proteins — including the Wnt pathway, which may play a role in autism spectrum disorders.

Reichardt is also a noted mountaineer who climbed both Mount Everest and K2 by new routes 30 years ago.

Gerald Fischbach, Simons Foundation

TITLE: Distinguished Scientist and Fellow

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Fischbach currently has the title of distinguished scientist and fellow at the Simons Foundation. His foundation bio shares: 

Dr. Fischbach joined the Simons Foundation in 2006 to oversee the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). He then became the foundation’s first chief scientist and fellow and currently holds the title of Distinguished Scientist and Fellow. Formerly dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences at Columbia University, and director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health from 1998-2001, Fischbach received his M.D. degree in 1965 from Cornell University Medical School and interned at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. He began his research career at the National Institutes of Health, serving from 1966-1973. He subsequently served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, first as associate professor of pharmacology from 1973-1978 and then as professor until 1981. From 1981-1990, Fischbach was the Edison professor of neurobiology and head of the department of anatomy and neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1990, he returned to Harvard Medical School where he was the Nathan Marsh Pusey professor of neurobiology and chairman of the neurobiology departments of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital until 1998.

Throughout his career, Fischbach has studied the formation and maintenance of synapses, the contacts between nerve cells and their targets through which information is transferred in the nervous system. He pioneered the use of nerve cell cultures to study the electrophysiology, morphology and biochemistry of developing nerve-muscle and inter-neuronal synapses. His current research is focused on roles that neurotrophic factors play in determination of neural precursor fate, synapse formation and neuronal survival.

Fischbach is a past president of the Society of Neuroscience and serves on several medical and scientific advisory boards. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a former non-resident fellow of the Salk Institute.

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