Pletnikov Named Chair of Physiology and Biophysics

Published January 30, 2020

Mikhail V. Pletnikov, MD, PhD

story based on news release by barbara branning

Mikhail V. Pletnikov, MD, PhD, has been named professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.


He currently serves as a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; molecular and comparative pathobiology; and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Noted for His Scientific, Leadership Skills

The appointment was announced by Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“Dr. Pletnikov rapidly emerged as our top candidate possessing the administrative, scientific, leadership and visionary skills needed to move the department forward and further align the department with the Jacobs School’s strategic plans,” Cain said.

Pletnikov, a native of Moscow, Russia, will relocate to Buffalo and join UB on July 1, 2020. He will be accompanied by his wife, Olga Pletnikova, MD.

Hogan Has Served as Chair Since 2015

“I feel honored to be appointed to this position,” Pletnikov said. “I am grateful to the members of the search committee, the faculty of the department and personally to Dr. Cain for placing their trust in me to lead the department.”

“I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students to support and promote education and biomedical research in the department and the school,” he added.

“On a personal note, Olga and I are excited to move to Buffalo,” Pletnikov said. “As for its weather, I am sure we will appreciate all four seasons there — as after all, we used to live in Moscow.”

Pletnikov will succeed Perry M. Hogan, PhD, who has served as chair of physiology and biophysics since 2015.

Research Focuses on Complex Brain Disorders

Pletnikov’s research focus is on understanding how neurons and non-neuronal cells (glial cells) interact with one another to support critical brain functions, including emotion and cognition.

He also studies the mechanisms whereby the brain regulates functions of different organs in the body and itself is influenced by peripheral systems, particularly the immune system and the gut.

“A growing number of studies suggest that abnormalities in these complex interactions lead to the development of disorders of the brain and peripheral organs,” Pletnikov said. “Targeting cells, processes and pathways involved in the brain-periphery interplay is emerging as a new promising direction in treatment of complex brain disorders.”

Johns Hopkins Faculty Member for Two Decades

Pletnikov’s research has been published in numerous journals. He lectures nationally and internationally and serves on the editorial boards of leading scientific journals in his field, including Genes, Brain and Behavior; Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews and Biological Psychiatry.

Pletnikov joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins as an assistant professor in 1999 after completing his postdoctoral training in behavioral neuroscience and neurovirology there.

He received his medical degree from the I.M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy and his doctoral degree in normal physiology from the P.K. Anokhin Institute of Normal Physiology in Moscow.