Leszek Kaczmarek

Professor Head of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, The Marceli Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences


Leszek Kaczmarek is a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Academia Europaea. His major research achievements include (i) discovery of c-Myc protein role in the regulation of the cell cycle; (ii) discovery of the learning-related gene (c-fos) expression in the mammalian brain; (iii) revealing apoptotic component of excitotoxicity in the adult brain; (iv) discovery of a critical role of cyclin D2 in the adult brain neurogenesis; (v) discovery of the involvement of matrix metalloproteinases in synaptic plasticity, learning and memory, epileptogenesis, alcohol addiction and schizophrenia; (vi) defining the role of the central amygdala in appetitive learning and memory. He has published over 250 research papers, cited over 12 000 times. L. Kaczmarek was invited as a lecturer to more than 100 international and national meetings and over 300 times to talk on research seminars, workshops, etc.; he promoted over 40 PhDs and was either PI or coordinator on over 50 domestic and international grants. He was a postdoc at the Temple University (Philadelphia, USA), as well as visiting professor at the: University of Catania (Italy), McGill University (Montreal, Canada), UCLA (Los Angeles, USA), and the Institute of Photonic Sciences, ICFO, (Castelldefels, Spain). He served on numerous program and grant committees, editorial and advisory boards, as well as authorities of Polish and international scientific societies and organizations.
Kaczmarek studies focus on a question of brain-mind connection: how does the brain produce mind? Originally, in the middle of 80-ies, he and his colleagues have discovered that learning experience activates gene expression in the brain, and the very first such gene they have identified was found to encode a c-Fos protein, a transcriptional regulator. They have followed with revealing that genes encoding TIMP-1 (tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase) and MMP-9 (matrix metalloproteinase) are c-Fos targets in activated neurons. Then, they have shown that both TIMP-1 and MMP-9 may operate as an extracellular, synaptic system exerting control of efficacy and morphology of excitatory synapses. They have also provided evidence that this proteolytic system contributes to learning and memory, postnatal functional cortical development, as well as such neuropsychiatric conditions as the development of epilepsy, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders and addiction.