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Gord Fishell

Gord Fishell, Ph.D.

Gord Fishell is an institute member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a group leader in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute, and a professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

Fishell’s laboratory is interested in how the architecture of brain circuits are assembled, with a special focus on the diverse populations of inhibitory interneurons that are found in both pallial and subpallial telencephalon. His laboratory has spent the past 20 years working to understand the inhibitory cells that regulate excitatory signaling in the brain. In its simplest sense, brain inhibition is the stop signal that prevents the brain from becoming over-excited. In practice it is much more nuanced. The human brain is bombarded by senses and without the ability of inhibitory cells to gate the salient from the irrelevant, the ability to function in normal life would descend into chaos. Indeed, numerous lines of evidence suggest that defects in inhibition are a proximal cause for a range of brain disorders including autism. The loss of appropriate inhibitory control results in autistic individuals being unable to ignore the touch of clothing on skin or focus during a conversation without being distracted by extraneous sounds. The lab’s hope is that by understanding how the genetic changes that manifest in autism affect the development and function of interneurons, they will be able to create new treatment approaches for this pervasive disorder.

Fishell was previously the associate director of the New York University (NYU) Neuroscience Institute, Julius Raines Professor of Neuroscience and Physiology at NYU, and director of the graduate program in neuroscience and physiology at the NYU School of Medicine. He completed his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Toronto and conducted postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the Rockefeller University.

September 2022