Michael Dyer, PhD
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has named Michael Dyer, PhD, Chair of the Department of Developmental Neurobiology.
“A true visionary in his field, Dr. Dyer is a remarkable scientist who has worked tirelessly to unravel some of the long-held mysteries of childhood cancer,” said James R. Downing, MD, St. Jude President and Chief Executive Officer. “His drive to answer challenging and thought-provoking questions will help guide the Department of Developmental Neurobiology.”
Dr. Dyer’s contributions include a 2007 study that found neurons in the brain could still divide. The finding countered a century-old scientific belief that differentiated nerve cells could not multiply and make new cells. In 2012, Dr. Dyer and his colleagues demonstrated that an unexpected mechanism was responsible for the rapid growth of retinoblastoma.
Dr. Dyer’s current research is focused on understanding how retinal progenitor cells coordinate proliferation and cell fate specification during development and how genetic alterations in solid tumors, particularly retinoblastoma, can provide leads for the development of new therapeutic approaches.
“By the year 2021, the Developmental Neurobiology department’s faculty will include international leaders in neural development, synapse formation, and neural circuit formation,” Dr. Dyer said. “One common theme across the department will be relating our basic research to human diseases, including neuropathies and cancer.”
Dr. Dyer sees the integration of the department’s faculty in the Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program as crucial for the successful translation of basic scientific discoveries on neurodevelopment from the laboratory to the clinic.
Dr. Dyer holds the Richard C. Shadyac Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research, and he currently serves as the Developmental Biology Division Director and co-program leader for the Developmental Biology and Solid Tumor Program.
He joined St. Jude as an assistant member in Developmental Neurobiology, has been named a Pew Scholar, the Cogan Award Recipient, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist. In 2013, he was appointed an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Dr. Dyer earned his doctorate from Harvard University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. ■