Randy D. Blakely, Ph.D.
Dr. Blakely received his B.A. in Philosophy summa cum laude from Emory University, followed by a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he pursued studies of brain peptides with Dr. Joseph T. Coyle. Following his graduate work, Dr. Blakely pursued postdoctoral training at the Yale/HHMI Center for Molecular Neuroscience with Dr. Susan Amara, research that identified the genes encoding targets of widely used antidepressant medications and psychostimulants, including cocaine and amphetamines. As an independent investigator (Emory University, 1990-1995; Vanderbilt University, Allan D. Bass Chair, 1995-2016, Florida Atlantic University, 2016-present), Dr. Blakely has pursued studies of the genetics, structure, regulation and pathophysiology of synaptic transporters, work that appears in more than 300 research articles and scholarly reviews. In recent years, his work has focused on the identification of human transporter mutations that alter neurotransmitter inactivation and/or drug recognition, work that has led to the generation of animal models of multiple neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders such including autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease and congential myasthenias. A committed mentor to junior scientists, Dr. Blakely has trained nearly 100 undergraduate, Masters, Ph.D. and M.D. students, as well as nearly 40 post-doctoral fellows, many of whom hold independent, leadership positions in academia or industry. Dr. Blakely’s research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health and private research foundations for over 30 years.
Dr. Blakely's research and mentorship have garnered multiple honors including the Daniel Efron Award from the ACNP, two Distinguished Investigator Awards from the Brain and Behavioral Research Foundation, a MERIT Award from the NIMH, a Zenith Award from the Alzheimer’s Association and both the Astellas Award in Translational Pharmacology and the Julius Axelrod Award from ASPET. As Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Molecular Neuroscience, he formed the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and Vanderbilt Neuroscience Ph.D. Program in 1997 with Elaine Sanders-Bush Ph.D., and served for 12 years as the Director of the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Training Program in Functional Neurogenomics until his departure from FAU in 2016. From 2008-2016, he led the NIMH-sponsored Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research at Vanderbilt University. In 2016, Dr. Blakely moved to Florida Atlantic University as Professor of Biomedical Sciences in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and as the inaugural Executive Director of the FAU Brain Institute. In his role as Executive Director, Dr. Blakely sets Institute priorities for research, education and outreach, oversees the development and acquisition of research infrastructure, leads recruitment efforts for Brain Institute Investigators, among other activities. Dr. Blakely is responsible for a dozen patents related to his gene discoveries and attempts to translate his findings into novel animal models and therapies. In 2009, Dr. Blakely was elected a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. In 2015, he received the Delores C. Shockley Partnership Award in recognition of minority trainee mentorship. In 2017, Dr. Blakely was elected to serve on the National Advisory Mental Health Council for the National Institute of Mental Health and was elected to the National Academy of Investors. In 2019 he received the Southeastern University Research Association’s Distinguished Researcher Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award in STEM Education by the Cox Science Center and Aquarium. In 2021, Blakely was awarded the David J.S. Nicholson Distinguished Professorship in Neuroscience at Florida Atlantic University.