Meet the Directors
Serge Przedborski, MD, PhD, Co-Director
Serge Przedborski is the Page and William Black Professor of Neurology. He holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Neurology, Pathology and Cell Biology and is the Director of the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative, the Co-Director of the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease, the Vice-Chair of Neurology, and a faculty member of the graduate program in Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University. Dr. Przedborski attended medical school at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium, and did his internship and residency in Neurology and Psychiatry at the ULB-Erasme Academic Medical Center, Belgium. He obtained both his MD degree (1983) and then a PhD degree in neurological sciences (1991) from the ULB. He then did a fellowship in movement disorders with Dr. Stanley Fahn at Columbia University, where he became Assistant Professor in 1991.
The research conducted in Dr. Przedborski’s laboratory is geared toward unraveling the molecular basis of neurodegeneration and devising therapeutic strategies to hamper the processes that cause neuronal death, the source of many debilitating disorders. In keeping with this goal, to what extent and by which mechanisms do cell-autonomous and non-cell autonomous deleterious processes contribute to the demise of specific subpopulation of neurons in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease represent a main line of research in his laboratory. These research efforts are supported by federal grants from both NIH and the DoD and by private agencies including the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, MDA, ALSA, Project-ALS, and P2ALS/Target-ALS. Dr. Przedborski is the current president of the World Parkinson Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an international forum to learn about the latest scientific discoveries, medical practices, caregiver initiatives, and advocacy work related to Parkinson's disease.
Darryl De Vivo, MD, Co-Director
Dr. Darryl C. De Vivo, M.D., is the Sidney Carter Professor of Neurology, Professor of Pediatrics, and Director Emeritus (1979-2000) of the Pediatric Neurology Service at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Dr. De Vivo received his M.D. Degree from the University of Virginia Medical School. Residency training in Medicine, Pediatrics, Neurology, and Pediatric Neurology followed at Harvard, National Institutes of Health and Washington University. He then joined the Medical School Faculty at Washington University and over the next decade was promoted from Assistant Professor to Professor as he developed his clinical research skills in neurochemistry, metabolic diseases, and neuromuscular disorders. He joined the Columbia University Faculty in 1979 as the Sidney Carter Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics and Director of the Pediatric Neurology Service. Currently he continues to fulfill his duties as Founding Director, Colleen Giblin Research Laboratories; Director, Pediatric Neuromuscular Disease Center, Co-Director of the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Diseases (MNC) and Associate Chairman (Neurology) for Pediatric Neurosciences.
Dr. De Vivo was a Director for Neurology and President of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Secretary of the American Academy of Neurology, and President of the Child Neurology Society. He has published more than 450 original articles and reviews, lectures extensively in the U.S. and abroad, serves on several editorial boards and advisory committees, and is a former associate editor for Rudolph's Textbook of Pediatrics. He is a current editor of "Neuromuscular disorders in Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence: A Clinician's Approach", recognized as the standard reference in the field. Dr. De Vivo receives funding from the NIH, DOD, SMA Foundation, MDA, Colleen Giblin Foundation, Milestones for Children, and the Will Foundation. He serves as the Director for the PNCR Clinical Trials Network for SMA.
Hynek Wichterle, PhD, Co-Director
Hynek Wichterle is an Associate Professor holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Pathology & Cell Biology and Neuroscience (in Neurology) at Columbia University Medical Center. He received his MS degree from Charles University in Prague and his PhD degree from The Rockefeller University. He trained at Columbia University, where he became assistant professor in 2004 and associate professor in 2012. He serves as a co-director for both the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative and the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease. He is also an associate director of the JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center and a Vice-Chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine in the Department of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.
Dr. Wichterle developed groundbreaking methods for producing spinal cord neurons from pluripotent embryonic stem cells in a culture dish. The process faithfully recapitulates normal embryonic development, providing a unique opportunity to study and experimentally probe nerve cells in a controlled environment outside of the embryo. He is using the system to decode transcriptional programs that control genes important for neuronal differentiation and function. His lab also capitalizes on the unlimited source of spinal neurons to study motor neuron degenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with the goal of discovering new drugs for these currently untreatable, devastating conditions.