09
Apr

2012

Philip G. Haydon, Ph.D.

Philip Haydon is President of GliaCure and the Annetta and Gustav Grisard Professor and Chair in the Department of Neuroscience at Tufts. In 1994 Phil Haydon’s laboratory discovered that astrocytes can release the chemical transmitter glutamate in response to receptor-induced Ca2+ elevations and that this glial-mediated signal can activate neighboring neurons. Since then his studies have focused on determining the impact of this process of gliotransmission on neuronal network function and behavior. In 1999 he coined the expression “the tripartite synapse” to recognize the important role that astrocytes play in tuning and modulating synaptic transmission. Through the integration of molecular genetics, electrophysiology, adenosine biosensors, two photon imaging and behavioral evaluations his laboratory provided the first evidence demonstrating that astrocytes regulate the levels of extracellular adenosine and that this signal is critical for controlling the function of neural circuits in vivo as well as being an essential element of the sleep homeostat.

During the past four years Phil Haydon has begun studies on microglia and has emphasized identification of the mechanisms regulating phagocytosis by this subtype of glial cell. He has discovered the importance of reactivation of the microglial phagocytotic pathway that normally declines in Alzheimer’s disease. He has collaborated with a medicinal chemist in the design of 76 new chemical entities directed at a novel glial target controlling phagocytosis and gone on to demonstrate efficacy in preclinical mouse models.

Phil Haydon is recognized as a world leader in the study of neuron-glial interactions with studies focusing on how astrocytes regulate sleep, epilepsy, neurodegenerative disorders and depression. He has received several prestigious awards, including a McKnight Investigator Award and the Jacob Javits Award from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and served for many years as a peer reviewer of National Institutes of Health grant proposals.

In addition to his academic background Phil Haydon has significant experience in commercial enterprises. He was a founding partner in three small businesses, including Prairie Technologies, Inc. This company, founded in 1995, sprang from Phil’s need for new imaging technology to optimize his neuroscience research. In concert with his business partners he developed a biological near-field microscope, the first microscope capable of sub-diffraction biological imaging. Initial development of this project led to a successful grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding mechanism.