Christopher A. Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Christopher A. Walsh is Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Genetics and Genomics at Boston Children's Hospital, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. Dr. Walsh completed his MD and PhD degrees (with Ray Guillery) at the University of Chicago, neurology residency and chief residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, and postdoctoral training in Genetics at Harvard Medical School with Connie Cepko. In 1993 he became Assistant Professor of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and he has been the Bullard Professor since 1999. He became an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2002, and from 2003-2007 served as Director of the Harvard-MIT Combined MD-PhD training program. He moved to Boston Children’s Hospital in 2006, becoming Chief of Genetics. Dr. Walsh’s research has focused on the development, evolution, and function of the human cerebral cortex, pioneering the analysis of human genetic diseases that disrupt the structure and function of the cerebral cortex by fostering worldwide collaborations with physicians and families. His laboratory has identified genetic causes for more than twenty brain diseases of children, associated with autism, intellectual disability, seizures, and cerebral palsy, and has discovered that some of these disease genes were important targets of the evolutionary processes that shaped the human brain. The work has been recognized by a Jacob Javits Award from the NINDS, the Dreifuss-Penry Award from the American Academy of Neurology, the Derek Denny-Brown and the Jacoby Awards from the American Neurological Association, the American Epilepsy Society’s Research Award, the Krieg Award from the Cajal Club, the Wilder Penfield Award from the Middle Eastern Medical Assembly, and most recently the Perl-Neuroscience Award from the University of North Carolina. He is an elected member of the American Neurological Association, the American Association of Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.
Michael Greenberg, Ph.D.
Michael E. Greenberg is the Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor at Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University in 1982 and carried out his postdoctoral research at New York University Medical Center. After joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1986, Dr. Greenberg served first as the founding Director of the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and since 2008 as Chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Greenberg’s research seeks to understand how neuronal activity controls gene transcription to effect critical steps in synapse and neural circuit development. In addition to providing insight into the process of brain development, this research has contributed to the understanding of neurological diseases in which these processes have gone awry. This work began in 1984 with the discovery that growth factors induce the rapid and transient expression of a family of genes, Immediate Early Genes (IEGs) such as c-fos, whose functions are crucial for neuronal differentiation, cell survival, and adaptive responses. Dr. Greenberg’s recent studies have used genomics to identify neuronal transcripts and cis-regulatory elements that respond to changes in synaptic activity, uncovering an activity-responsive transcriptional program that regulates the complexity of the dendritic arbor, the development of excitatory and inhibitory synapses, the composition of protein complexes at the pre- and post-synaptic sites, and the production of neuropeptides that control neural circuit development. These activity-regulated processes are critical for normal human brain development and function, and defects in the activity-dependent gene program contribute to disorders of human cognition such as Rett Syndrome (RTT) and Angelman Syndrome (AS), two neurological disorders associated with syndromic autism. Dr. Greenberg is particularly interested in those activity-dependent processes that have evolved humans and contribute to human variation and high cognitive function.
Dr. Greenberg has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including membership in both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. He was the recipient of the Gruber Neuroscience Prize (together with Dr. Carla Shatz), the McKnight Innovation in Neuroscience Award, McKnight Neuroscience of Brains Disorders Award, the Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience, the J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine (together with Dr. Roger Nicoll), the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, the Julius Axelrod Award, a Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, the Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award, and the A. Clifford Barger Award for Excellence in Mentoring—the last two being awards given annually by Harvard Medical School to faculty members who have been committed to moving the medical school toward a more diverse and inclusive community, and fostering strong mentoring relationships with students, trainees, and junior faculty. Dr. Greenberg is currently on the editorial boards of Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience, Learning & Memory, and Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience.
David E. Reich, Ph.D.
David Reich was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1996 from Harvard College. He carried out his doctoral work in statistical methods for learning about evolutionary history with applications to gene mapping at the University of Oxford (mentor David Goldstein), graduating in 1999. He attended the first two years of medical school at the Harvard/MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. He completed his post-doctoral work at the Whitehead Institute / MIT Center for Genome Research working on using insights about population history to improve searchers for disease genes, before starting as faculty at the Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics in 2003. He became tenured at 2011, and became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2013.
Dr. Reich’s work focuses on studying population mixture, with application to both medical and human history. In medical genetics, he is best known for developing and applying methods to use the history of mixture of populations in the history of African Americans to find genetic risk factors that contribute to health disparities. His laboratory has also developed and applied methods that have also led to the discovery of ancient population mixtures in South Asians (Reich et al. Nature 2009), in Europeans (Lazaridis et al. Nature 2014; Haak et al. Nature 2015; Mathieson et al. Nature 2015; Fu et la. Nature 2016; Lazaridis et al. Nature 2016); Neanderthal gene flow into that ancestors of non-Africans (Green et al. Science 2010; Prüfer et al. Nature 2014), and archaic “Denisovan” gene flow into the ancestors of present-day Melanesians (Reich et al. Nature 2010; Reich et al. American Journal of Human Genetics 2011; Meyer et al. Science 2012).
Dr. Reich built the first state-of-the-art ancient lab for studying genome-wide human DNA in the United States in 2013, and much of his work at present focuses on using the transformative power of ancient DNA to gain new insight about medical and evolutionary genetics.