Virginia Tech™home

Michael Friedlander, Ph.D.

Michael Friedlander, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute
Virginia Tech Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology
Senior Dean for Research, School of Medicine
Professor

Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D. headshot

“This is one of the most incredible places in the world to cross-disciplinary research, where we're converging on answering some of the most critical health problems and challenges facing human kind today." 

Exploring the cellular processes underlying synaptic plasticity

How are synapses affected during development, learning, and in response to injury?

Michael Friedlander joined the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in 2010 as its inaugural executive director, where he currently provides leadership to 33 premier research teams working to prevent, diagnose, and treat major health challenges. Institute faculty members hold more than $129 million in ongoing research grants. In addition, he serves as vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech, where he leads the development of the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences and the growth of the Academic Health Center in Roanoke. 

His research program is directed at understanding the processes that regulate alterations in synaptic efficiency between neurons within the cerebral cortex — synaptic plasticity — and how these cellular processes are affected during brain development, after experiences including learning, and in response to brain injury. Specifically, his laboratory uses quantitative single neuron patch clamp electrophysiological methods along with cellular and subcellular imaging to visualize the changes in structure and calcium signals that underlie alterations in functional synaptic connectivity within the mammalian neocortex. 

As senior dean for research of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Friedlander also oversees the school’s research education activities, leads the research value domain of the curriculum, and administers the research mentorship program. Before joining Virginia Tech, Friedlander served as the Wilhelmina Robertson Professor of Neuroscience, chair of the Department of Neuroscience, and director of neuroscience initiatives at Baylor College of Medicine at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Earlier, he served for 25 years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, where he was professor and founding chair of the department of neurobiology, founding director of the Neurobiology Research Center, director of the Civitan International Research Center for Intellectual Disabilities, and the first Evelyn McKnight Professor of Learning and Memory in Aging.

  • Executive Director, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology
  • Senior Dean for Research, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science
  • Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, College of Engineering
  • Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, School of Medicine

Friedlander, M.J., C.-S. Lin and S.M. Sherman.  Structure of physiologically identified X- and Y-cells in the cat's lateral geniculate nucleus.  Science, 204:1114-1117, 1979.

Friedlander, M.J.  The structure of physiologically classified neurons in the kitten dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. Nature, 300:180-183, 1982.

Lal, R. and M.J. Friedlander.  Gating of retinal transmission by afferent eye position and movement signals.  Science, 243:93-96, 1989.

Sayer, R.J., M.J. Friedlander and S.J. Redman.  Time course and amplitude of EPSPs evoked at synapses between pairs of CA3-CA1 neurons in hippocampal slice. J. Neurosci., 10:826-836, 1990.

Montague, P.R., C. Gancayco, M.J. Winn, R.B. Marchase and M.J. Friedlander.  Role of NO production in NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmitter release in cerebral cortex.  Science, 263:973-977, 1994.

Dudek, S.M. and M.J. Friedlander.  Developmental down-regulation of LTD in cortical layer IV and its independence of modulation by inhibition. Neuron, 16:1097-1106, 1996.

Kara, P. and M.J. Friedlander.  Arginine analogues modify signal detection by neurons in the visual cortex, J Neurosci. 19:5528-5548, 1999.

Saez, I and Friedlander, MJ, Plasticity between neuronal pairs in layer 4 of visual cortex varies with synapse state J. Neurosci. 29: 15286-15298, 2009

Zhu PJ, Huang W, Kalikulov D, Yoo JW, Placzek AN, Stoica L, Zhou H, Bell JC, Friedlander MJ, Krnjević K, Noebels JL, Costa-Mattioli M. (2011). Suppression of PKR Promotes Network Excitability & Enhanced Cognition by Interferon-γ-Mediated Disinhibition. Cell, 147(6):1384-96.

Saez, I and Michael J Friedlander, Role of GABAA-Mediated Inhibition and Functional Assortment of Synapses onto Individual Layer 4 Neurons in Regulating Plasticity Expression in Visual Cortex. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 3;11(2).



  • Wilhelmina Robertson Endowed Professor of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Chair, Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Director, Neuroscience Initiatives, Baylor College of Medicine
  • University of Virginia: Postdoctoral fellowship
  • University of Illinois: Ph.D.
  • Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine Distinguished Scientist Award
  • Elected Fellow of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Board of Directors Distinguished Service Member
  • First Annual Neuroscience Society Distinguished Scholar Award of the University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Wilhelmina Robertson Endowed Chair in Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, 2005-2010
  • Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Professor of Learning and Memory in Aging, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Illinois Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Distinguished Alumnus Award
  • NIH Fogarty Center International Fellowship to the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Canberra, Australia
  • Elected member of the Dana Foundation Brain Alliance
  • WM Keck Foundation Award for Neurobiology Program Development
  • American College of Physicians William C. Menninger Memorial Award for Distinguished Contributions to Mental Health Research
  • Lucille P. Markey Foundation Center Award for Program Development In Neurobiology
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Neuroscience Fellowship

News about Michael Friedlander, Ph.D.  

Related Videos

Loading player for https://video.vt.edu/media/Welcome+to+the+Fralin+Biomedical+Research+Institute/1_7bgzxc60...
Loading player for https://youtu.be/mHDEOyrcqkM...
Loading player for https://video.vt.edu/media/Virginia+Tech+scientists+develop+new+COVID-19+tests/1_bxtoyx8g...
Loading player for https://video.vt.edu/media/Sights+and+sounds+from+the+regional+forum+hosted+by+Virginia+Tech+and+Carilion+Clinic/1_7alfr2mx...