Susan M. Dymecki

RELATED STORY: Susan Dymecki: Serotonin Circuit Master

Susan Dymecki received her B.S.E. and M.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania, and M.D. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After completing doctoral studies, Dymecki began independent work as a Helen Hay Whitney Fellow and John Merck Scholar at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, where she developed genetic approaches in mice to study the deployment and function of embryonic cell lineages as means to examine mammalian nervous system development. She joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1998, became a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar in 1999, earned the HMS Morgan-Zinsser Teaching Faculty Fellowship Award and the Gulf Oil Outstanding Achievement in Biomedical Science Award, and received the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program mentoring award—she now serves as director of this program.

Dymecki’s lab has pioneered transgenic tools to subtype neurons by molecular identity and probe each subtype’s function, connectivity and origin—as illustrated by her discoveries on the brain serotonergic system. Dymecki has identified numerous subtypes of serotonergic neurons and uncovered their network nodes and discrete functions, from respiratory to affective. Elucidating this heterogeneity brings insight into serotonin involvement in such diverse disorders as sudden infant death syndrome and depression, providing novel ways to conceptualize and potentially attack these intractable disorders.