Eric J. Heyer

Eric John Heyer MD, PhD is Professor Emeritus from the Departments of Anesthesiology and Neurology and is currently Special Research Scientist in the Department of Neurological Surgery. He retired after 25 years as a neuroanesthesiologist at Columbia University. While working at Columbia University, Dr. Heyer forged close relationships with neurosurgeons, working in collaboration with them in many different areas related to neurosurgery.

He started his research career as an undergraduate at The University of Chicago in the laboratory of Dr. John Hubby. “In the early 1960s, . . . [Dr. Hubby] began a series of electrophoresis studies that charted the extent of genetic variation between the same genes in different species and used that difference as a measure of the evolutionary distance between those organisms”. After graduating from The University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, he studied at The Rockefeller University in the Biophysics laboratory of Dr. Alexander Mauro where he looked at the effect of permeant and impermeant solutes, and unstirred boundary layers on osmotic flow and Time-Variant Conductance of Bilayer Membranes Treated with Monazomcycin and Alamethicin. He continued these studies in the Medical Scientist Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Finkelstein. He received his MD and PhD in 1975.

He continued his clinical training as an intern at the New York Hospital in Internal Medicine, and then as a resident at the Neurological Institute at Columbia University. Subsequently he became an Instructor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Michigan and a Grass Fellow in the laboratory of Robert Macdonald, where he studied the action of convulsant and anticonvulsant medications on the membrane properties of primary dissociated cell cultures of spinal cord neurons from neonatal mice. His subsequent appointments were at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the Department of Neurology where he continued his research with primary dissociated neurons from the ventral mesencephalon looking at cells associated with dopamine and its receptors.

In 1988 he had a career switch and began his residency in Anesthesiology with subsequent appointments in that Department and in the Department of Neurology at Columbia University. Since 1995 he was been actively doing clinical research with Dr. E Sander Connolly from the Department of Neurological Surgery studying cognitive change associated with a surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy. For about 12 years their research was supported by the National Institute of Aging. They documented that cognitive changes associated with carotid endarterectomy was due to cerebral injury, and found that certain statins reduced the incidence of this injury.

Dr. Heyer was chief of the Division of Neurological Anesthesiology from 2000 until he retired December 31, 2015. Upon retiring from his clinical responsibilities in 2016 he was appointed special research scientist in the Department of Neurological Surgery. He has continued his clinical outcome studies in collaboration with Dr. Connolly.

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Last Updated: February 24, 2020