Gerald D. Fischbach

Chief Scientist, Simons Foundation

Gerald Fischbach joined the Simons Foundation in early 2006 to oversee the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Formerly, he was dean of the faculty of health sciences and of medicine at Columbia University, and director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1998-2001. Fischbach received his M.D. in 1965 from Cornell University Medical School and interned at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. He began his research career at the NIH 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 anatomy and neurobiology department 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 junctions 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 the roles that neurotrophic factors play in determination of neural precursor fate, synapse formation and neuronal survival. Fischbach is a past president of the Society for 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, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a non-resident fellow of the Salk Institute.

From this contributor

Explore more from The Transmitter

Research illustration groups genes by their effects on brain cell types.

Giant analysis reveals how autism-linked genes affect brain cell types

Genes that predispose people to autism account for a large portion of the neuronal and glial cell changes seen in those with the condition.

By Charles Q. Choi
20 June 2024 | 5 min read

Widely used calcium imaging protocol can lead to spurious results, new paper cautions

The technique, which measures calcium currents as a proxy for neuronal firing, sometimes reports unusual and potentially misleading waves of activity in the hippocampus.

By Angie Voyles Askham
19 June 2024 | 0 min watch
Research image of white-matter density in brains of people with deletions or duplications in the 16p11.2 chromosomal region.

Double-empathy problem; dup15q syndrome; myelin loss in aging autistic adults

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 17 June.

By Jill Adams
18 June 2024 | 2 min read