The Simons Foundation is pleased to announce that Louis F. Reichardt of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) will become the next director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). He is to begin his official duties at the foundation’s New York City offices in July.
Reichardt will succeed Gerald D. Fischbach, who has served as SFARI’s director since its inception in 2006. Fischbach will assume the positions of chief scientist and fellow of the foundation.
Reichardt is currently the Jack D. and DeLoris Lange endowed chair in cell physiology at UCSF, where he has directed the renowned neuroscience graduate program since 1988. A Fulbright scholar with an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, Reichardt was a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for more than twenty years. Reichardt’s research focuses on neurotrophins, a family of proteins that play a key role in neuron functioning, and on another family of proteins that promote the adhesion of nerve cells to each other. He has made major contributions to the study of intracellular signaling pathways that mediate the effects of these proteins — including the Wnt pathway, which may play a role in autism spectrum disorders.
Reichardt combines exceptional scientific accomplishment with outstanding leadership skills. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 1985, he is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was one of three founding editors of the journal Neuron and is a senior editor of the Journal of Cell Biology. He serves on the editorial boards of several other journals as well as the scientific advisor boards for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis Foundation and the Myelin Repair Foundation. He is also widely acknowledged as a dedicated mentor to early-career scientists and students in the UCSF neuroscience program.
Reichardt is also a noted mountaineer who climbed both Mount Everest and K2 by new routes 30 years ago. He is an honorary member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and American Alpine Club and is past president of the latter. For the past 30 years he has been on the board of the American Himalayan Foundation, which promotes educational and economic opportunity, cultural preservation and environmental restoration in Nepal, Tibet and Tibetan communities in India.