Harald Sontheimer

Harald Sontheimer

Dr. Sontheimer is a researcher and educator with a life-long interest in Neuroscience. A native of Germany, he obtained a Masters degree in evolutionary comparative Neuroscience, where he worked on the development of occulomotor reflexes. In 1989, he obtained a doctorate in Biophysics and Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience form the University of Heidelberg studying biophysical changes that accompany the development of oligodendrocytes, the principle myelinating cells of the nervous system. He moved to the United States, where he later became a citizen, for post-doctoral studies at Yale University. His independent research career began at Yale in 1991 and continued at the University of Alabama Birmingham from 1994-2015, and, more recently at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on the role of glial support cells in health and disease. His laboratory has made major discoveries that led to two clinical trials using novel compounds to treat malignant gliomas. His research led to over 170 peer-reviewed publications. For the clinical development of his discoveries, Dr. Sontheimer started a biotechnologies company, Transmolecular Inc., which conducted both phase I and II clinical trials with the anti-cancer agent chlorotoxin. This technology was recently acquired by Morphotec Pharmaceuticals, who will be conducting the phase III clinical trials. As educator, Dr. Sontheimer has been active in teaching Medical Neuroscience, graduate Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, and, for the past 10 years, he has offered both graduate and undergraduate courses on Diseases of the Nervous System. In 2005, Dr. Sontheimer became director of the Civitan International Research Center, a philanthropically supported center in Birmingham AL devoted to the study and treatment of children with developmental disabilities, ranging from Down’s syndrome to Autism. In this capacity, Dr. Sontheimer was frequently tasked explaining complex scientific processes to a lay audience. Recognizing the need to further educate the public about neurological disorders using language that is accessible to an educated public motivated Dr. Sontheimer to write a textbook on Diseases of the Nervous system. To assure that the material is comprehensive yet readily understandable, he wrote large parts of this text while on sabbatical leave at Rhodes College in Memphis, where he taught undergraduates while testing his book on this group of talented third and fourth year Neuroscience students. In 2015 Dr. Sontheimer was tapped to found a School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech with the goal to offer a unique Neuroscience education to an increasing number of undergraduates. As the first of its kind, this enterprise will ultimately represent an entire college dedicated to a variety of Neuroscience experiences and include majors in clinical, experimental, cognitive, systems, computational and social Neuroscience. Enrollment is expected to exceed 1000 undergraduate students. Dr. Sontheimer continues to manage a very active research laboratory at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute where he involves a spectrum of trainees ranging from undergraduates to post-doctoral scientists. Dr. Sontheimer has already trained well over 50 Ph.D. students and post-doctoral fellows.

Affiliations and Expertise

I. D. Wilson Chair and Professor, Executive Director, Virginia Tech School of Neurosciences; Commonwealth Eminent Scholar in Cancer Research; Director, Glial Biology in Health, Disease & Cancer Center; Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Blacksburg, VA, USA


Author: Harald Sontheimer Release Date: 12 Mar 2015
Print Book:
USD 160.00