Leading researcher Anthony Antonellis, Ph.D. named chair of U-M Department of Human Genetics

ANN ARBOR, MI – Professor of Human Genetics Anthony Antonellis, Ph.D. has been named chair of the Department of Human Genetics and the James V. Neel Collegiate Professor of Human Genetics, effective August 1, 2019. The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved both appointments today. He will oversee a department with 45 faculty and 76 staff members and that received over $10 million in total grants in the last fiscal year.

Headshot of Anthony Antonellis, Ph.D.
Antony Antonellis, Ph.D.

 In addition to his Human Genetics appointment, Dr. Antonellis is a professor of neurology in the Medical School, and serves as associate chair for education in the Department of Human Genetics and associate director of the Genetics Training Program. He joined the U-M faculty in 2008 as an assistant professor of human genetics and neurology, and earned promotion to associate professor in 2014, and professor in 2018.

He is a leader in peripheral nerve development and disease research, with a focus on defining the molecular mechanisms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) — the most-common hereditary neurological conditions, which causes muscle weakness and decreased sensation, and affects 150,000 people in the U.S. alone. He was involved in the initial discovery of mutations in glycyl-tRNA synthetase in patients with CMT disease, and since has identified mutations in many other tRNA synthase genes in patients. Additional research in his lab is aimed at understanding how gene expression in Schwann cells dictates myelination in the peripheral nerve and how this process is disturbed in disease states.

 After earning a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts in 1992, he served as a laboratory technician at Genzyme Genetics. From 1996-2000, he was a senior research associate in the Department of Genetics and Epidemiology at the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School. He earned a Ph.D. from the George Washington University and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Joint Program in Genetics and then embarked on a research fellowship in the physical mapping section of the Genome Technology Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute within NIH.

 The U-M Medical School honored him with the Basic Sciences Teaching Award in 2012, and Basic Science Research Award in 2017.

 “I am both honored and excited to serve as the next Chair of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan,” says Antonellis. “The Department has a long history of leadership in the field of genetics with a remarkable number of breakthrough research discoveries, an outstanding track record of training scientists and clinicians that have gone on to be leaders themselves, and a cohesive group of faculty, trainees, and staff that are nationally recognized for their work. This success was largely due to the efforts of our previous Chairs James Neel, M.D., Ph.D., Miriam Meisler, Ph.D., Tom Gelehrter, M.D., Sally Camper, Ph.D., and Dave Burke, Ph.D. I am really looking forward to leading the Department at this exciting time when the field of genetics is being transformed due to new discoveries facilitated by publicly available datasets and cutting-edge technologies.”

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