Richard Huganir is a renowned neuroscientist who explores synapses, the molecular means of communication between neurons in the brain, as well as the mechanisms that regulate synaptic transmission and plasticity. He is co-director of the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute and investigates learning, how memory is encoded in the brain, and the connections between neuroscience and genetics in order to better understand neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Huganir studies molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate neurotransmitter receptors. His work is currently focused on the mechanisms that underlie the regulation of glutamate receptors, the major excitatory neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, which are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, autism, and intellectual disabilities, as well as in chronic pain and drug addiction. Huganir is also at the forefront of a collaborative effort to understand mutations in the SynGAP protein, which alter a neuron’s ability to transmit signals across the synapse and cause intellectual disability and autism. He is working to better diagnose such mutations in children and develop treatment plans to help them learn to walk and talk.
Huganir joined Johns Hopkins University in 1988 from Rockefeller University and was named a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in 2018.