Asaf Keller, PhD Investiture Ceremony Program

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<strong>Asaf</strong> <strong>Keller</strong>, <strong>PhD</strong> was born in Israel but spent<br />

most of the first 13 years of his life in West<br />

Africa and Thailand, where his father worked<br />

for a construction company. After graduating<br />

from high school in Haifa, Israel, he completed a<br />

mandatory, three year military service. Dr.<br />

<strong>Keller</strong> joined the MD/<strong>PhD</strong> program at Ben<br />

Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel. It was<br />

there that he began his research in the<br />

neurosciences with his mentor, Professor E.L.<br />

White. His <strong>PhD</strong> dissertation research used<br />

quantitative ultrastructural analyses to show<br />

that—contrary to the prevailing dogma—brain<br />

cells form highly specific connections with their<br />

neighbors, and with cells in other brain regions.<br />

Dr. <strong>Keller</strong> took an (indefinite) leave of absence from medical school to accept a<br />

postdoctoral fellowship with Professor H. Asanuma at The Rockefeller University in<br />

New York City. He received training in electrophysiology, which he combined with<br />

his anatomical skills to show that learning of motor skills depends on strengthening<br />

existing connections between brain cells, as well as the formation of specific, new<br />

synapses.<br />

Dr. <strong>Keller</strong> established an independent laboratory at the Uniformed Services Medical<br />

School in Bethesda, MD where he continued his studies on learning-related changes<br />

in connections and activity of specific brain cells. In 1995 he joined the Department<br />

of Anatomy & Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He<br />

was promoted to full professor in 2001, became interim chair of the department in<br />

2019, and permanent chair in 2021. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics<br />

and Statistics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His current research<br />

program focuses on how brain circuits responsible for sensory perception are<br />

affected by drug exposure and pain conditions. His team described changes in brain<br />

circuits that lead to chronic pain, as well as brain circuits that can modulate the<br />

perception of pain. Dr. <strong>Keller</strong>'s team is working on harnessing this knowledge to<br />

relieve chronic pain conditions. They also demonstrated that exposure to drugs, such<br />

as marijuana or opioids, in the womb or in adolescence—both critical periods for<br />

brain development—can lead to lasting, irreversible changes in brain function and<br />

behavior. The work focuses on learning how to prevent these devastating, lasting<br />

neurological and psychiatric deficits. Dr. <strong>Keller</strong>'s research has been and continues to<br />

be funded by the National Instituted of Health.<br />

Dr. <strong>Keller</strong> is dedicated to mentoring young scientists at all levels of their career. To<br />

date, he has trained 9 high-school students, 17 college undergraduates, 23 graduate<br />

students, 15 postdoctoral fellows, and many new faculty members. He was the<br />

director of graduate education for the <strong>Program</strong> in Neuroscience, and the director of<br />

the program's NIH-funded Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences Training <strong>Program</strong>.<br />

Dr. <strong>Keller</strong> is the recipient of the Dr. Patricia Sokolove Outstanding Mentor Award<br />

from University of Maryland Graduate School, and several Best Mentor and Best<br />

Lecturer Awards from the <strong>Program</strong> in Neuroscience.


Mary Pooton<br />

Associate Dean for Development<br />

University of Maryland School of Medicine<br />

James Kaper, <strong>PhD</strong><br />

The James and Carolyn Frenkil Distinguished Dean’s Professor<br />

Vice Dean for Academic Affairs<br />

Chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology<br />

University of Maryland School of Medicine<br />


Mark T. Gladwin, MD<br />

Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore<br />

John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and<br />

Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine<br />


Mark T. Gladwin, MD<br />


Yavin Shaham, <strong>PhD</strong><br />

Chief, Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch<br />

National Institute on Drug Abuse<br />

National Institute of Health<br />

Margaret McCarthy, <strong>PhD</strong><br />

The James and Carolyn Frenkil Dean’s Professor and Chair,<br />

Department of Pharmacology<br />

Director, <strong>Program</strong> in Neuroscience<br />

University of Maryland School of Medicine<br />

Jason Alipio, <strong>PhD</strong><br />

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School,<br />

Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine<br />

Michal <strong>Keller</strong><br />

<strong>Asaf</strong> <strong>Keller</strong>’s Sister<br />


Mark T. Gladwin, MD<br />


<strong>Asaf</strong> <strong>Keller</strong>, <strong>PhD</strong><br />

The Donald E. Wilson, MD, MACP Distinguished Professor<br />

Chair of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology<br />

University of Maryland School of Medicine<br />


James Kaper, <strong>PhD</strong>

T<br />

he first endowed professorships were established more than<br />

500 years ago with the creation of the Lady Margaret chairs<br />

in divinity at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The<br />

original endowed chairs were sponsored by Lady Margaret,<br />

countess of Richmond, and grandmother of Henry VIII in 1502.<br />

Subsequently, private individuals began making financial contributions<br />

to establish other endowed professorships and chairs such as the<br />

Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, which Sir Isaac Newton held<br />

beginning in 1669. Professor Stephen Hawking, the internationally<br />

renowned physicist and recipient of the 2010 US Medal of Freedom,<br />

was another prominent holder of this endowed chair.<br />

The honor associated with appointment to an endowed position has<br />

remained unchanged for the last 500 years and is recognized as one of<br />

the highest tributes that an academic institution can bestow upon its<br />

most distinguished faculty. These endowed professorships and chairs<br />

continue to reward exceptional scholars uninterrupted to the present<br />

time.<br />

The Office of Development is charged with securing private gifts to<br />

ensure the School’s tradition of excellence is sustained through robust<br />

research, clinical, and educational programs and initiatives. The<br />

University of Maryland School of Medicine is fortunate to have nearly<br />

85 endowed chairs & professorships in various stages of completion<br />

and held by esteemed faculty members.


Donald E. Wilson, MD, MACP was Senior Vice<br />

President for Health Sciences at Howard University from<br />

August 2007 until December 2009 when he retired for the<br />

second time. Dr. Wilson was dean of the University Of<br />

Maryland School Of Medicine from September 1991 until<br />

his retirement in September 2006. He was the nation's first<br />

African-American dean of an accredited non-minority<br />

medical school. In addition to serving as dean, Dr. Wilson<br />

became the University of Maryland's first Vice-President<br />

for Medical Affairs in 1999. During his tenure the student<br />

body became more diverse, the number of minority faculty<br />

nearly tripled and external research funding more than<br />

quadrupled moving the medical school into the top 10%<br />

nationally of public medical schools in research funding.<br />

Dr. Wilson came to Maryland after 11 years as professor<br />

and chairman of the department of medicine, State University of New York Health Science Center at<br />

Brooklyn. He was physician-in-chief at the University Hospital and Kings County Hospital Center in<br />

Brooklyn. He completed his undergraduate education at Harvard University, received his medical<br />

degree from Tufts University, and has received Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Science from the<br />

University of Maryland, Baltimore, Tufts University and SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn,<br />

NY. He is board certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine.<br />

Dr. Wilson has chaired several federal committees including, the National Institutes of Health's (NIH)<br />

Digestive Diseases Advisory Board, the Food and Drug Administration's Gastroenterology Drugs<br />

Advisory Committee, and the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (DHHS) Advisory Council.<br />

He is past chairman of the board of directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges<br />

(AAMC) and the AAMC Council of Deans of US medical schools. He is the first African-American to<br />

hold each of these positions. He is a member of several medical/research societies, including the<br />

National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), the Association of American<br />

Physicians and the American Clinical and Climatological Association. Dr. Wilson co-founded the<br />

Association for Academic Minority Physicians in 1986- an organization dedicated to increasing he<br />

diversity of our nation’s biomedical and bio-scientific work forces.<br />

He has received numerous awards and honors. He served on the medical honors society, Alpha Omega<br />

Alpha’s national board of directors 2002-2011, and was its vice-president 2004-2011. In 2000 Dr.<br />

Wilson received the AAMC’s first Herbert Nickens Award, promoting equality and justice in medicine.<br />

Dr. Wilson continues to be engaged and currently has served as the principle investigator of a NIH P 20<br />

award as well a sub-award through the National Research Mentoring Network- an award designed to<br />

help increase the diversity of the nation’s bio-scientific and biomedical workforces. In 2022 Dr. Wilson<br />

received the American Heart Association’s Watkins-Saunders Award. He also has over 200<br />

publications in the fields of internal medicine, gastroenterology, health care and medical education.

The Donald E. Wilson, MD, MACP Distinguished Professorship<br />

was made possible through the generosity of many friends,<br />

colleagues, trainees, and organizations<br />

in honor of Dr. Donald E. Wilson including:<br />

Association of American Medical Colleges<br />

Dr. Claudia R. Baquet<br />

Dr. Stephen T. Bartlett<br />

Mr. David M. Blanken and Mrs. Barbara Friedman<br />

Dr. Meredith Bond<br />

Dr. Luther T. Clark<br />

Dr. Charles H. Epps, Jr. and Mrs. Roselyn P. Epps<br />

Dr. David R. Gens<br />

HSCB Foundation, Inc.<br />

Mr. Gregory F. Handlir<br />

Dr. L. Julian Haywood<br />

Dr. Stephan L. Kamholz<br />

Dr. Anthony F. Lehman<br />

M & T Bank<br />

Maryland Medical Center Insurance <strong>Program</strong><br />

Dr. James E. McNamee and Mrs. Susan O. McNamee<br />

Dr. Vincent D. Pellegrini , Jr.<br />

Dr. Mildred E. Phillips<br />

Dr. Mary M. Rodgers, Professor Emerita<br />

Dr. Thomas M. Scalea<br />

Dr. David L. Stewart<br />

Dr. Donald E. Wilson and Mrs. Patricia C. Wilson

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