Ron McKay is the Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the Basic Neuroscience Program of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Dr. McKay has held this position since April 1993 when he moved from MIT. He also worked at Oxford University and at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He received his doctorate for work in nucleic acid chemistry with Dr. Ed Southern at the University of Edinburgh.
In the first of his contributions to neurobiology, he showed that the nervous system was composed of many distinct neuronal types. His recent work has focused on the stem cells of the central nervous system. In a 1988 paper he provided the first clear proof that neuronal precursors could be identified. These studies have generated a series of important insights into the properties of stem cells in the developing and adult nervous system. They challenge the textbook view that the differences between brain regions are irreversibly imprinted on cells during development.
Dr. McKay's work has importance beyond the intrinsic academic interest in the properties of stem cells and strongly influences strategies for cell- and gene-based therapies for diseases of the central nervous system. The work of his group is widely recognized. He has served on editorial boards of major journals such as Neuron, Genes and Development, Journal of Neuroscience, European Journal of Neuroscience, Current Protocols in Neuroscience, Neurobiology of Disease, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience.