Robert J. Wenthold Memorial Lecture
Robert J. Wenthold received his Ph.D. from Indiana University and first came to work at the NIH in 1984 as a Senior Investigator at the former National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke. In 1989, he joined the newly created National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) as a founding member of the NIDCD Division of Intramural Research. Dr. Wenthold was named Scientific Director in 1998, and for the next 10 years was instrumental in helping build the NIDCD intramural program’s research foundation in areas such as genetics, molecular and developmental biology, computational modeling and brain imaging. He also played an important role in recruiting and promoting a new collaborative arrangement with the University of Maryland that allowed NIDCD laboratories to recruit graduate students.
Throughout his scientific career, Dr. Wenthold’s interests focused on synaptic transmission and the biochemistry and localization of synaptic proteins. He was most recognized for his studies on the family of receptors for glutamate, a chemical that stimulates neurons in the brain and is important in a host of functions, including hearing, learning and memory. His landmark studies on the biochemistry of glutamate receptors are the foundations for the current understanding of these proteins. Furthermore, the antibodies he generated against various subtypes of glutamate receptors allowed for their precise localization in the brain and auditory system and are used by research groups around the world.