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Dr. John Byrne Is Running for Sfn President!

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Dear colleagues and Society for Neuroscience members,

 Dr. Jack Byrne, Chairman, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School at Houston has been nominated as the President-elect of the SfN. Please take a moment to cast your vote this Holiday weekend. Go Jack! 

John (Jack) Byrne

Administrative Accomplishments: 
I have served as chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston for the past 28 years, leading a large neuroscience effort and managing significant financial resources.  I also served as Treasurer of the Society for Neuroscience.  Since 1992, I have directed the Neuroscience Research Center at the UT Health Science Center.  In that capacity, I have helped to promote collaborative research and educational programs among diverse neuroscience interests on campus.  I have also coordinated significant community outreach activities in conjunction with Brain Awareness Week.  These include an annual Public Forum and an annual Brain Night, which is geared toward children.  Finally, through the Dana Alliance “Policymakers Day,” and similar programs of the Society for Neuroscience and ANDP, I have traveled to Washington on numerous occasions to meet with senators and representatives to discuss the importance of brain research.

Degree, Institute, Year Earned:

BS, New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, 1968
MS, New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, 1970
PhD, New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, 1973
Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1973-1975
Research Areas:

Neuronal and molecular mechanisms underlying simple forms of learning.

Current Position(s) at Your Current Institution: 

  • June and Virgil Waggoner Chair and Chairman, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
  • Director, Neuroscience Research Center, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • Associate Dean for Research, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
  • Director, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston


  • Society for Neuroscience
    • Chairman, Swartz Prize Selection Committee, 2009-2011
    • Chairman, Ralph W. Gerard Prize Selection Committee, 2007-2009
    • Committee on Committees, 2006-2010
    • Finance Committee, 2003-2008
    • Selection Committee for the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, 1994-1997
    • Chair, Finance Committee, 1992-1993
    • Treasurer, 1992-1993
    • Treasurer-Elect, 1991-1992
    • Public Information Committee, 1990-1993
    • Presidential Nominating Committee, 1989
    • Society Member, 1974-present
  • Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society
    • Member, 2009-present
  • Association of Medical School Neuroscience Department Chairpersons
    • President, 2008, 2009
    • Member, 2003-present
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
    • Chair, Section on Neuroscience, 2008-2009
    • Chair-Elect, Section on Neuroscience, 2007
    • Member-at-Large, Section Committee of the Section on Neuroscience, 1996-2001
    • Nominating Committee for Officers of the AAAS Section of Neuroscience, 1995
    • Society Member, 1973-present
  • Association of Anatomy, Cell Biology, and Neurobiology Chairpersons
    • Councilor, 2006-2008
    • Member, 1987-present
  • International Society for Neuroethology
    • Member, 1995-present
  • Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives
    • Member, 1994-present
  • International Neural Network Society
    • Program Committee, 1993
    • Member, 1992-present
  • Biophysical Society
    • Member, 1976-present
  • American Physiological Society
    • Member, 1976-present
  • Sigma Xi
    • Member, 1973-present

Service Positions: 

A.)  Editorial Boards:

  • BrainWeb (Dana Foundation), Scientific Advisor, 2010-present
  • Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Guest Editor, 2006
  • Physiological Reviews, Editorial Board, 2004-2010
  • Journal of Neural Engineering, Editorial Board, 2003-2006
  • Learning & Memory
    • Editor-In-Chief, 1996-present
    • Editorial Board, 1993-present
  • Behavioral Neuroscience, Editorial Board, 1994-2001
  • News in Physiological Sciences, Assistant Editor, 1994-2003
  • The Journal of Neuroscience, Editorial Board, 1989-1994
  • Journal of Neurophysiology, Editorial Board, 1986-1992

B.)    Other Service Positions: 

  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) 
    • MR5 Behavioral and Social Sciences Working Group, 2010-2011
    • Leadership Forum on Medical Education, 2010
  • RIKEN Brain Research Institute, Chairman, External Review Committee, 2002, 2007
  • NSF
    • Committee of Visitors for the Neuroscience Cluster, 1999
    • Evaluation Panel in Biomedical Sciences for the Minority Graduate Fellowship Program, 1991-1993
    • Advisory Panel for Integrative Neural Systems, 1983-1986
  • Weizmann Institute of Science, Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee, 1997, 2006
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
    • Faculty Member, Learning and Memory course, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011
    • Conference Co-Organizer, Learning and Memory, 1994, 2001, 2003, 2005
    • Co-Course Director, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Learning and Memory, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001
  • Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Faculty Member, Neural Systems and Behavior course, 1984-1990
  • NIH, Membership on several Intramural site visiting teams; ad hoc membership on numerous study sections  

Science Biography: 
During my graduate training in bioengineering at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, I became interested in the nervous system and pursued a thesis project in the laboratory of Eric Kandel.  After completing my thesis, I spent an additional two years as a postdoctoral fellow with Kandel at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.  I assumed my first faculty position in the Department of Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  In 1982, I moved to the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston (UTHealth) and, in 1987, was appointed professor and chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. 

My research uses a combination of biophysical, biochemical, molecular and mathematical modeling techniques to provide an understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying simple forms of learning.  These include sensitization, Pavlovian conditioning and operant conditioning. My accomplishments include determining: 1) the ways in which specific membrane currents in individual neurons contribute to behaviors; 2) the role of potassium currents, protein kinase C and transmitter mobilization in short-term presynaptic facilitation; 3) changes in neuronal excitability, synaptic strength, morphology and gene expression associated with long-term sensitization; 4) the role of growth factors in long-term synaptic facilitation; and 5) the cellular and molecular mechanisms of classical and operant conditioning.  I believe that a novel aspect of my research strategy is the complementary use of empirical and mathematical modeling approaches.  Recently, I constructed computational models of the signaling cascades involved in long-term memory and then used those models to enhance synaptic facilitation and memory by devising training schedules that resonate with the underlying molecular dynamics of learning.  My work on operant conditioning constitutes the first detailed mechanistic analysis of this form of learning and provides the basis for a comparative analysis of the mechanistic interrelationships among simple forms of learning.  

My research has been recognized by the receipt of honors and awards, which include an NIH Career Development Award, an NIMH Research Scientist Development Award, an NIMH Research Scientist Award, the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the NINDS and the Hebb Award from the International Neural Network Society. I received the UTHealth President’s Scholar Award for Research and was elected as a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

I have also contributed substantially to graduate and medical education, both locally and nationally, through my textbook From Molecules to Networks: An Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, the third edition of which was recently published.  Another contribution is the development of an innovative electronic online textbook Neuroscience Online, which during the past year received more than two million visits.  My educational awards include the UTHealth President’s Award for Mentoring Women, the Award for Education in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience, The University of Texas System Innovation in Health Science Education Award, and the UTHealth President’s Scholar Award for Teaching.

Curriculum vitae (pdf opens in a new window)