OBIT: John Lisman, 73, Brandeis Professor Renown for His Research into the Brain

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Brandeis professor, renown neuroscience researcher and Watertown resident John Lisman died on Oct. 20, 2017 at the age of 73, the university announced.

Provost Lisa M. Lynch announced Lisman’s passing to the Brandeis Community:

“It is with great sadness that I write to tell you of the death of our colleague John Lisman. John succumbed to a lung infection, passing away last Friday afternoon, surrounded by his family. He was 73 years old.”

Lisman’s work made discoveries about how long-term memory works in the human brain.

“He made some of the most significant contributions to our understanding of how long-term memories are encoded at the molecular level, and his work was a crucial catalyst for many other advances in knowledge of the workings of memory,” Lynch’s letter read.

He made many discoveries about the role of the role of the molecule CaMKII, and shortly before his death he published  “the most compelling evidence to date that it is responsible for storing long-term memories in the brain,” in the prestigious journal Neuron. This work opens new possibilities in the research of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and ALS, according to Lynch.

He was also a popular professor, earning the praise of his students.

“John was also highly accomplished in the classroom, earning many plaudits from his students,” Lynch wrote.

Lisman attended Brandeis as an undergraduate, earning his B.A. in physics in 1966, before getting a doctorate in physiology at MIT. He had a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard under Nobel Laureate George Wald. In 1974 he returned to Brandeis as an assistant professor, received tenure and promotion 6 years later, and became a full professor in 1987. For the past 11 years he held the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience.

Read Lynch’s letter on the Brandies website by clicking here.

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