History Timeline

Dr. John W. Olney

Dr. John W. Olney trained in the Department's psychiatry residency program and then stayed on as a member of the faculty. He was appointed an assistant professor in 1969 and advanced to the level of professor in 1977. In 1999, he was installed as the first John P. Feighner Professor in Neuropsychopharmacology. Through his research, Dr. Olney described and defined the importance of a phenomenon that he termed "excitotoxicity."  Excitotoxicity is a process where excess stimulation by certain brain transmitters leads to cell damage in the central nervous system. Because of his pioneering work, studies involving excitotoxicity have become a central theme in neuroscience. His studies have major implications pertaining to many brain disorders. Dr. Olney died in April 2015.