|Chair of Neuroscience & Director of MINS: John A. Dani
July 16, 2013,
Volume 60, No.1
Dr. John A. Dani became the new chair of the department of neuroscience in the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, on July 1. He also serves as director of the Mahoney Institute of Neurosciences (MINS) at Penn.
“Given his impressive combination of research strength, administrative experience, and institutional citizenship, I am confident that Dr. Dani will not only be a great colleague to everyone, but will also ably lead the department and MINS to even greater levels of success,” said Dr. J. Larry Jameson, dean of the Perelman School of Medicine and executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System.
Dr. Dani was professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, with secondary appointments in Baylor’s Menninger department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and its graduate program in translational biology and molecular medicine. He was also director of Baylor’s Center on Addiction, Learning and Memory.
His research interests cover how behavior, addiction, learning and memory cut across disciplines. With longtime support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Dr. Dani and his lab are among the leaders in studying nicotine and its role in addiction. For example, his team investigates how nicotine initiates cellular mechanisms that link immediate environmental events to drug use. By simultaneously causing reward centers to send a dopamine signal, nicotine increases the strength of synaptic connections causing memory associations, for example, between the people and the places involved and a drug experience.
Dr. Dani graduated summa cum laude from the college of engineering at the University of Michigan. He earned his doctorate in physiology, with a minor in physical chemistry, at the University of Minnesota. At the University of Washington, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of physiology and biophysics with Dr. Bertil Hille. He then moved to the University of California at Los Angeles as a postdoctoral fellow with George Eisenman in the department of physiology. After three years as a research associate scientist in molecular neurobiology at Yale University, Dr. Dani joined Baylor College of Medicine as an assistant professor in 1987. He was named associate professor in 1991 and professor in 1999.
Among Dr. Dani’s many honors are the DeBakey Award for outstanding research, from Baylor and the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Award from the National Institutes of Health. He has been a frequent member of NIH study sections and NIH reviews, including for the NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards. He was a guest editor of a special issue of Journal of Neurobiology and currently serves on numerous editorial boards.