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Michael C. Wilson, PhD

Michael C. Wilson, PhD


Dr. Wilson was an internationally recognized scientist and an invaluable HSC faculty member in the Department of Neurosciences. He received his BA in Biology from Hunter College at City University of New York and a Diploma in Epigenetics from University of Edinburgh. He then completed a PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Zurich and postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University. Prior to his arrival at UNM in 1996, he served as a faculty member at the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, CA.

Dr. Wilson’s seminal contributions to the field of neuroscience include the identification of SNAP-25, which is a critical component of the neurosecretory machinery for synaptic transmission. Utilizing mouse mutants generated in his laboratory, he provided key observations linking presynaptic machinery for neurotransmitter release with human neurocognitive disorders. The impact of his research was exemplified by multiple publications in top-tier scientific journals that included Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, PNAS, and Cell, as well as more than 20 consecutive years of NIH research funding. He served on many grant review panels for national and international research funding agencies.

Dr. Wilson trained numerous postdoctoral fellows and graduate students at the HSC in the fields of neurogenetics and molecular neurosciences, and was highly regarded as an exceptional tutor for medical students in the basic neurosciences. He was recipient of the Earl Walker Award for outstanding research in neurosciences conducted at UNM. In addition to his exceptional research, Dr. Wilson’s contributions to HSC include service on the SOM-Research Allocations (Chair), HSC-Science Advisory, and SOM-MD/PhD program steering committees.

Dr. Wilson passed away peacefully on Nov. 14, 2014. His enthusiasm and love of science inspired innumerable students and colleagues alike. He will be truly missed.


Michael Wilson was the best scientific mentor that I had while I was a postdoc at Scripps. He taught me DNA sequencing in the early 1980s, and we have several publications together. I had no idea, and it makes me very sad. May you have a wonderful afterlife, if such a thing exists ...

— Gerry Higgins
I salute you, Michael. I salute your scientific intellect, your love for difficult problems and for questions that go beyond the conventional wisdom. I salute your humour, friendship, hospitality and warmth. I salute your generosity and your contagious happiness. Please continue to fly high in the clear sky of a winter morning. Yours, gipi
— Giampietro Schiavo

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