Neuroscientist Remembered for Pioneering Memory Research

John Lisman ’66
Mike Lovett
John Lisman ’66

On Oct. 12, John Lisman ’66, the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience, gave his final scientific presentation, from a hospital bed in New York.

Speaking via video to dozens of colleagues gathered at Brandeis for the annual retreat sponsored by the Volen National Center for Complex Systems, Lisman lectured on a molecule in the brain called the calcium/calmodulin dependent protein kinase, or CaMKII
for short.

It was the culmination of 30 years of research on CaMKII. Colleagues said it was the best lecture he had ever given.

Eight days later, Lisman, 73, died from a lung infection.

He had recently published a groundbreaking paper in the prestigious journal Neuron showing that CaMKII plays a major role in the human brain’s ability to retain memories.

Lisman joined the Brandeis faculty in 1974. In 2013, he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“As a research scientist, John was both original and indefatigable,” Provost Lisa Lynch said in a written statement. “He will be greatly missed, and his memory will endure in the many lives he touched.”