- Curriculum Vitae
Dr. McConnell began his career as a neuroscientist in graduate school at UCSD. He completed his Ph.D. in 2004. His post-doctoral work began at Harvard Medical School. He moved (with the Shatz laboratory) to Stanford for a year-an-a-half, before being awarded a Crick-Jacobs Junior Fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 2008. At Salk, Mike pioneered single cell genome analysis in neurons, and was recruited to the faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 2012. Dr. McConnell obtained his B.S. at North Carolina State University while a co-op student at Glaxo. He then worked at three biotech companies before earning an M.S. in Cancer Immunology at Virginia Tech in 1999.
Mike is a leader in the field of Brain Somatic Mosaicism and single neuron genomic analysis. His PhD dissertation included the first report of neuron-to-neuron genetic diversity (i.e., whole chromosome gains and losses, aneuploid neurons) in the mouse brain. With his development of single cell approaches at Salk, Mike discovered that a third of neurons in young, healthy human brains contain megabase scale genomic structural variants (i.e., copy number variants, CNVs). The NIMH named this finding among the Top 10 Discoveries in Neuroscience in 2013, and formed the Brain Somatic Mosaicism Network (BSMN) to define the mosaic genetic architecture of psychiatric disease. Mike teamed with the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) in the BSMN, and made the surprising discovery that CNV neurons are selectively vulnerable to age-related atrophy. He joined LIBD in 2019, where he leads single cell efforts to uncover genetic links to neuronal resilience during age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. The US National Academy of Medicine recently supported this effort with a Catalyst Award in their Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge Competition.