Randy D. Blakely, a native of Columbus, Georgia, 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 transporter mutations that alter neurotransmitter inactivation and/or drug recognition, leading to the generation of animal models of multiple neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, OCD, ADHD and Major Depression. A committed mentor to junior scientists, Dr. Blakely has trained nearly 100 undergraduate, Masters, Ph.D. and M.D. students through his laboratory, as well as nearly 40 post-doctoral fellows, many of hold independent, leadership positions in academia or industry.
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 Neuroscience Ph.D. Program in 1996 and served as the director of the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Training Program in Functional Neurogenomics until his departure for FAU in 2016. From 2008-2016, he led the NIMH-sponsored Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research at Vanderbilt University. 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 Council for the National Institute of Mental Health.
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, and leads efforts to encourage translation of neuroscience discoveries.