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Harvard Neurobiologist and Mount Alumnus David Ginty Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Communications Staff

David Ginty, Ph.D., the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for his “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

david-ginty.jpgGinty, a Mount St. Mary’s University (MSMU) graduate from the Class of 1984, is just one of the latest Mount alumni to be recognized for their notable academic achievements. Earlier this year Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, C’12, became the first African-American female to be accepted into the residency program of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine department of neurosurgery. Additionally, Brigid Flay, C’17, Samantha Solis, C’16, and Alyse Spiehler, C’17, were all named as finalists for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award.

Just last week, Ginty was the keynote speaker at the Mount’s annual academic celebration known as the SPARC Festival. Ginty’s talk, “How do we feel? An exploration of the sensory neurons of touch,” focused on what happens when symphonic ensembles of neural impulses flow from our skin to our brains to convey tactile encounters with the physical world. “Our ability to perceive and respond to the physical world is rooted in the cadre of intricate nerve cell endings in our skin, the largest and least understood of our sensory organs,” said Ginty.

With his election, Ginty joins a group of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates who have received this prestigious distinction.

“We could not be more proud of how Dr. Ginty has represented the Mount in his incredible work,” said Mount St. Mary’s University Interim President Timothy Trainor, Ph.D. “He is not only a tremendous scientist, but one with strong values who works tirelessly to solve the sensory-related challenges that those with autism and other conditions face. On behalf of the Mount community, I’d like to congratulate Dr. Ginty on his election to the National Academy of Sciences.”

The NAS is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars, which was established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Elected by their peers for membership into the NAS for outstanding contributions to research, the organization is responsible for providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Among their ranks are almost 500 Nobel Prize winners and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research.

Ginty’s work focuses around fundamental mechanisms and the sense of touch, and for more than two decades he’s tried to unravel the mysteries of peripheral nervous system organization and development. His current research is on understanding the development and functional organization of neural circuits that underlie the sense of touch, and the cellular and circuit basis of touch and pain sensations. Ginty is also interested in the cellular and molecular basis of touch and pain sensations under disease conditions. Recently, Ginty has uncovered critical insights into mechanisms of sensory neuron activation, the functional organization of the spinal cord, and altered touch sensitivity in autism-spectrum disorders.

Currently, Ginty is an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (since 2000), an associate editor for the scientific journal Neuron (since 2003), and the associate director for the Harvard University Program in Neuroscience (since 2015). Previously, Ginty served as a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore from 2004-13. In 1989, Ginty graduated with a doctorate in physiology from East Carolina University School of Medicine, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Mount Saint Mary’s College in 1984. Mount St. Mary’s became a university in 2004.

Learn more about Ginty and the Harvard Medical School.

Communications Staff