Dr. Gordon Mitchell named MBI deputy director

By Michelle Jaffee

Gordon S. Mitchell, Ph.D., director of UF’s Breathing Research and Therapeutics (BREATHE) Center, has been named deputy director of the McKnight Brain Institute.

Gordon Mitchell Speaking in front of a crowd at the annual breathe conferenceMitchell joins a leadership team of MBI Director Jennifer Bizon, Ph.D.; fellow Deputy Directors Steven DeKosky, M.D., and Jada Lewis, Ph.D.; and Chief Operating Officer Kevin St.P. McNaught, Ph.D., in guiding the MBI’s 230-member neuroscience research community. In his new role, Mitchell will work with the leadership team and the UF Health Neuroscience and Neuromedicine Executive Committee to set strategies and implement programs to elevate the neurosciences across the UF campus.

“The McKnight Brain Institute has been critical in fostering my own research program and in supporting the birth and development of a truly unique research center — the BREATHE Center,” Mitchell said. “The MBI is more than a building. Over the years, it has grown into a community — a nexus — of neuroscientists at UF. Now, we have an exceptional new leader in Jen Bizon, and I am delighted to join the leadership team as we move the MBI to the next level of excellence.”

A professor of neuroscience in the department of physical therapy at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions (PHHP), Mitchell is a founding member of the MBI’s Education and Outreach Committee, started in 2017.

He is also founder and director of the BREATHE T32 combined pre- and postdoctoral training program, an MBI-PHHP match-funded program that was renewed last year with a perfect score by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This summer, Mitchell will launch a new UF postdoctoral fellowship, Gator NeuroScholars, focused on recruiting exceptional new talent into the MBI’s research focus areas.

Doctors Gordon Mitchell and Emily Fox in clinical setting discussing hypoxiaa“Since his arrival at UF, Dr. Mitchell has been instrumental in shaping the MBI community,” Bizon said. “He brings decades of scientific and leadership experience to our team and a broad perspective on our discipline that is critical for understanding the richness of our community.”

A native of Sierra Madre, California, Mitchell earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of California at Irvine and went on to complete his doctorate there in developmental and cell biology. He then trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Germany before joining the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over 33 years there, he rose to the rank of professor and served as chair of the department of comparative biosciences for 17 years.

In 2014, Mitchell joined UF as a preeminence professor of neuroscience. His research focuses on fundamental mechanisms of neuroplasticity in respiratory motor control and harnessing that plasticity to treat respiratory and non-respiratory motor impairment from spinal cord injury or ALS.