Dr. Dennis W. Choi is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Neurology and former Director of Stony Brook University’s Neurosciences Institute. Dr. Choi is a co-discoverer of the physiological mechanism of action of benzodiazepine drugs, and a pioneer in dissecting processes responsible for pathological neurodegeneration and devising neuroprotective countermeasures. His laboratory identified a key role for NMDA receptor activation and calcium overload in excitotoxicity, and zinc in ischemic brain injury. Later work examined how apoptosis, potassium efflux, and several cell signaling pathways contribute to neuronal death. During the 1990s "Decade of the Brain" his lab was ranked by Science Watch #19 worldwide for highly cited neuroscience publications, and recognized by several awards, including the Wakeman Award, the Conte Award, the Ho-Am Prize, and the Reeve Medal.
More recently he has led neuroscience programs in the pharmaceutical industry, and in a private foundation, including those aimed at biomarker development and the early clinical testing of novel candidate therapies for nervous system diseases. He is a founding co-editor of the journal "Neurobiology of Disease", member of the IOM, a fellow of the AAAS, a past President of the Society for Neuroscience, and a past Vice President of the American Neurological Association. He has served on advisory committees to multiple public and private organizations, including HHS, FDA, NIH, and the IOM, and currently serves as Director of the Brain Science Institute at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.
Dennis W. Choi, M.D., Ph.D., was on the faculty of Stanford University in the 1980s, and served as the Jones Professor and Head of Neurology at Washington University in St. Louis during the 1990s, leaving in January 2001 to work in industry (Merck). While a faculty member at Washington University, Choi was a key contributor to research on glutamate-mediated toxicity ("excitotoxicity") as a mechanism of neural injury in stroke and traumatic brain injury.
Choi attended Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1974, and went on to Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology to receive an MD and a PhD in Pharmacology in 1978. As a graduate student he demonstrated that benzodiazepines augment GABA-A receptor function, which represents a seminal discovery in neuroscience. Choi also completed his residency and fellowship in Neurology at Harvard.