Simon Fisher, Ph.D.

Director, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

SFARI Investigator Website

Simon E. Fisher is director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and professor of language and genetics at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He is also an honorary research fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) in Oxford, UK.

Fisher obtained his natural sciences degree at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, followed by a D.Phil. at the Genetics Unit of the Biochemistry Department, University of Oxford. For his postdoctoral research, he joined Professor Anthony Monaco’s group at WTCHG in Oxford and worked on identifying genetic factors that contribute to developmental disorders such as dyslexia and speech and language impairments. During this time, he and his colleagues identified FOXP2, the first case of a gene mutated in speech and language impairment.

In 2002, Fisher was awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship and became head of his own laboratory at the WTCHG, where he used state-of-the-art methods to uncover how language-related genes influence the brain. From 2007 to 2010, Fisher was also the Isobel Laing Fellow in Biomedical Sciences at Oriel College, Oxford, where he taught biochemistry and medical genetics. In 2010, he was appointed director of a new department specifically devoted to language and genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Fisher is author of over 75 journal articles, including peer-reviewed research in Nature, Nature Genetics, New England Journal of Medicine, Cell, Current Biology and American Journal of Human Genetics, and review articles in Nature Reviews Genetics, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Annual Review of Neuroscience, Trends in Genetics and Trends in Cognitive Sciences. He has an h-index of 41. Fisher is frequently invited to talk at leading international conferences across a diverse range of fields and has also spoken to school, student and public audiences on a number of occasions. His research has a strong interdisciplinary remit, integrating data from genetics and genomics, psychology, neuroscience, developmental biology and evolutionary anthropology. Fisher is an elected fellow of the Society of Biology, and his awards include the Francis Crick Prize Lecture in 2008 and the inaugural Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize in 2009.

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Funded Projects

SFARI Funded Publications

ASD and schizophrenia show distinct developmental profiles in common genetic overlap with population-based social communication difficulties. St Pourcain B., Robinson E., Anttila V., Sullivan B.B., Maller J., Golding J., Skuse D., Ring S., Evans D.M., Zammit S., Fisher S., Neale B.M., Anney R.J., Ripke S., Hollegaard M.V., Werge T., iPSYCH-SSI-Broad Autism Group, Ronald A., Grove J., Hougaard D.M., Borglum A.D., Mortensen P.B., Daly M., Davey Smith G.
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