Dr. Gary Bassell Named Chair of Cell Biology - Dean's Announcement

Message from Dean Christian P. Larsen

Appointment of Gary Bassell, PhD as the Department of Cell Biology Chair 

Dear Colleagues, 

It is my pleasure to announce that Gary Bassell has agreed to serve as chair of the Department of Cell Biology. Gary brings a wonderful mix of curiosity, creativity, and desire to connect the fundamental science of cell biology to clinical medicine to drive drug discovery and advance personalized medicine.

He joined the Emory faculty in 2005 and has been a professor in cell biology and neurology since 2009. His laboratory focuses on how messenger RNA is transported and regulated within neurons, how those processes are disrupted in neurologic diseases, and identification of potential therapeutic strategies.

“Gary is an international leader in cell biology and pioneer in the field of RNA transport and translational control in neurons,” says Allan Levey, chair of neurology and director of the Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. "His work has advanced understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in RNA-based neurologic diseases, including fragile X syndrome and spinal muscular atrophy."

Since 2012, Gary has been director of the Laboratory of Translational Cell Biology, whose objective is to establish “disease in a dish” models of neurologic diseases using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from cells from Emory patients. Previously, he served as director of microscopy cores for more than 10 years and was part of the leadership team that formed Emory’s Integrated Cellular Imaging core.

“My goals for the department are to recruit new faculty to synergize with ongoing research and build on our strengths and to forge new partnerships between investigators in basic mechanistic research and translational research and clinical care,” he says. 

Barry Shur, chair of the department when Gary was recruited from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2005, says, “Gary has made important contributions to our understanding of mRNA trafficking to the growth cones of developing neurons and to the maturing synapse.”

He has received several prestigious awards to recognize his research achievements, including the Basil O’Connor Scholar Award from the March of Dimes Foundation, the Dana Foundation Award in Brain Imaging, a Trailblazer Award from Autism Speaks Foundation, and a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award.

I also want to thank Win Sale for more than four years of committed service as interim chair from 2010 to 2015. To use one of his phrases, he personifies a “bedrock faculty member.” Win has been a wise and committed leader, and under his tenure the department and faculty gained new funding from the NIH, published important research, and established the Integrated Cell Imaging Core and the Laboratory of Translational Cell Biology.

"We are all very excited about the appointment of Gary as our new chair," Win says. "He is an outstanding scientist with broad training and expertise, and he brings great initiative and vision to the department and to Emory University. We have a bright future in basic and translational research in cell and developmental biology and neuroscience and in medical and graduate education."


Christian P. Larsen, M.D., D.Phil.