Susan M Dymecki, MD PhD

Professor of Genetics


Dr. Dymecki received her BSE and MSE from the University of Pennsylvania, and her MD and PhD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After completing doctoral studies, Susan began independent work as a Helen Hay Whitney Fellow and John Merck Scholar at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Embryology where she developed genetic approaches in mice to study the deployment and function of cell lineages to examine mammalian nervous system development.


She joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School (HMS) in 1998 and is presently a professor in the Department of Genetics. Her lab has continued to pioneer transgenic tools to subtype neurons by molecular identity, and elucidate each subtype’s origin, function, and connectivity map, focused particularly on the serotonergic system in the brain. Dymecki’s lab has identified numerous specialized subtypes of such neurons together with their network architecture and controlling roles in the physiology of respiration, body temperature, and emotional states. Defining this heterogeneity brings critical insight into serotonin involvement in the clinical spectrum of post-traumatic stress disorder, SIDS, and depression, as examples, providing novel ways to conceptualize and potentially attack these challenging disorders. Dr. Dymecki has served in Robert’s Program in Sudden and Unexpected Death in Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and is an active member of the executive committee for the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.


Committed to faculty and student mentorship and graduate education, Susan served as the Director of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Ph.D. Program, the largest bioscience Ph.D. training program at Harvard, from 2014 to 2020 after having served as Associate Director from 2004 – 2011. Dymecki has received the HMS Morgan-Zinsser Teaching Faculty Fellowship Award, the 2004 BBS Ph.D. Program mentoring award, and Harvard’s A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2017. She is the recipient of the Gulf Oil Outstanding Achievement in Biomedical Science Award at HMS, is an alumna scholar and Scientific Advisory Committee member of the Rita Allen Foundation, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.