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Meet the Deans: Peter Hitchcock

Hello! I am one of four Associate Deans, and my role at Rackham is to provide administrative oversight for graduate programs in the biological, biomedical and health sciences. In addition, I help coordinate campus-wide resources for training in the responsible conduct of research and scholarship, and I help provide support and resources for the 1400 postdoctoral research fellows working at the University of Michigan.

Outside Rackham, I am a faculty member in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Cell and Developmental Biology in the Medical School. In this role, I manage a NIH-funded research program that investigates the molecular mechanisms that govern embryonic brain development and injury and repair in the adult brain. Starting as an undergraduate, I have been intrigued by developmental biology and brain function. The brain is, by far, the most complex organ in the body, and how this organ is assembled during development provides an endless source of amazement and research opportunities. I try to relate my enthusiasm for this subject to the graduate students and postdocs studying in my lab. Finally, I also direct a course taught each year to first-year medical students, that covers the functional anatomy of the human central nervous system.

My abiding interest in postgraduate training brought me to my position at Rackham. I served as the Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program for four years, and more recently I served as the Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Studies at the Medical School. From my experiences in these positions, I developed the desire to broadly impact graduate education and postdoctoral training at Michigan. For scientists in the biological and health-related sciences, active career development and identifying career opportunities should be key goals. One of my important roles will be to develop resources for professional development for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Foremost among my roles as an Associate Dean, however, is to assist students, postdocs and faculty with questions, problems and strategies on how to make the most of the opportunities for graduate education and research training. I can be reached at rackhamadbiohealthsci@umich.edu. I look forward to meeting you at an upcoming Rackham event.