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Johns Hopkins Medicine
Office of Corporate Communications
CONTACT:  Joann Rodgers
February 14, 2006

Richard L. Huganir, expert on neuron-to-neuron  signaling that drives learning and memory function in the brain

Richard L. Huganir, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins since 1988 and an international authority Richard Huganiron the way molecular signals in neurons are created in the brain to bring about human learning and the construction of memories, has been named Director of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He becomes only the second Chair in the 25-year history of the Department, succeeding the founding director for whom it is now named.

 “We believe that [Dr.] Huganir has the scientific excellence, administrative ability and vision necessary for this important position,” stated the blue ribbon committee that selected him after a national search.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, professor of neuroscience since 1993 and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the School, Huganir is widely acclaimed for his novel experiments shedding light on the makeup and activity of proteins and others brain chemicals at work when nerve cells in the brain communicate.

Because his work is focused on the fundamental issues surrounding synaptic plasticity, it has profound implications for treatment of an array of neurological diseases and movement disorders, including Lou Gehrig’s Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), stroke and dementia.

“It is always a special pleasure to recognize that one of our own faculty is the very best candidate we could hope to have,” said Edward D. Miller, M.D., Dean/CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine in announcing Huganir’s appointment. “His scientific credentials are sterling, but in addition, he has been an effective leader in the department, active in many roles in the School and nationally. And most important, he has the vision to take the department into what is quickly becoming a new Golden Age of neuroscience.”

In recommending the appointment, the search committee, led by John Griffin, M.D., Director and Professor of Neurology at Hopkins, took note of Huganir’s  “outstanding record of significant research accomplishments,” as well as his leadership skills.

“Beyond the excellence of his scientific work, [he] has …experience as Director of the Department’s Graduate Program, Chair of the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke’s Board of Scientific Counselors, and Treasurer of the Society for Neuroscience.

“He is clearly committed to recruitment and career development of women and underrepresented minorities and …[has] presented a vision for the future growth of the Department,” the committee noted.

“It is an honor to follow in Dr. Snyder’s footsteps and to head what is one of the best Neuroscience Departments in the world. I look forward to leading the Department as we explore new and revolutionary ways to better understand the functioning of the brain,” Huganir commented. 

Huganir, 52, graduated with a degree in biochemistry from Vassar and earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and molecular and cell biology from Cornell University. Following postdoctoral work at Yale and Rockefeller universities, he came to Johns Hopkins as an assistant professor in 1988.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has authored or co-authored more than 180 scientific articles and reviews ( and is well known as a consummate mentor of young investigators at Hopkins.

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