(Originally published by Yale School of Medicine)
September 10, 2015
Pietro De Camilli, M.D., has been appointed the next chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., of the Yale School of Medicine announced this week.
In addition to leading the department of neurobiology, Dr. De Camilli will direct the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, one of four such research centers worldwide, endowed by The Kavli Foundation, that are devoted to deepening our understanding of the neurosciences through basic research.
Dr. De Camilli is the John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience, and professor of cell biology at the Yale School of Medicine, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is also founding codirector of the Yale Center for Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration, and Repair.
He succeeds Pasko Rakic, M.D., Ph.D., Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and 2008 Kavli Prize Laureate, who has led the Department of Neurobiology since its inception 37 years ago and the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience since it was founded in 2004. Under Dr. Rakic's guidance the Yale School of Medicine has become a beacon of neuroscience research worldwide.
A native of Milan, Italy, Dr. De Camilli completed his medical degree at the University of Milan and postgraduate training at the University of Pavia. He came to Yale in 1978 as a postdoctoral fellow in the pharmacology laboratory of Paul Greengard, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000. Dr. De Camilli joined the Section of Cell Biology in 1979, which subsequently became the Department of Cell Biology and served as department chair from 1997 to 2000. His research focuses on membrane trafficking and lipid signaling at neuronal synapses.
For more than 30 years, Dr. De Camilli has studied the dynamic function of cell membranes in the nervous system, with an emphasis on synaptic transmission, the process through which nerve cells exchange signals. His research has revealed the highly orchestrated series of events that lead to the release of neurotransmitters in pouches, called synaptic vesicles, and their subsequent reuptake at nerve endings. He has become a world-renowned expert on the mechanisms through which all cells secrete substances, take up material from the external environment and traffic it to appropriate intracellular destinations. His laboratory also investigates the impact of dysfunction of these processes in diseases of the nervous system, including autoimmune, genetic and neurodegenerative conditions.
Dr. De Camilli has received numerous awards in recognition of his scientific achievements, including the Max-Planck Research Prize in 1990, Sir Bernard Katz Award for Excellence in Research on Exocytosis and Endocytosis in 2012, and an honorary doctorate from Okayama University in 2013. He has been honored with elected memberships in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, The American Academy of Art and Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization and Italian Academy of Sciences, among others. He is President-Elect of the American Society of Cell Biology, which he will lead in 2017.
The Department of Neurobiology has a rich history at the Yale School of Medicine. It began as the Section of Neuroanatomy, established in 1978 to unite research on the brain's anatomy, physiology and chemistry, and gradually transitioned to an outstanding department focused on understanding the cerebral cortex.