Michael G. Kaplitt was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Long Island. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton University, where he graduated Magna Cum Lauda in Molecular Biology and also received a Certificate of Proficiency in Russian Studies. He then completed a PhD in Molecular Neurobiology at The Rockefeller University in 1993 and an MD from Cornell University Medical College in 1995. After completing a neurosurgery residency at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, he moved to Toronto to train in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery with Andres Lozano.
Dr. Kaplitt returned to Weill Cornell as a faculty member in 2001 following his fellowship to create a new clinical program in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. He is currently Professor of Neurological Surgery, Residency Program Director and Vice-Chairman for Research in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College-New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is also an Adjunct Faculty at The Rockefeller University and in the Department of Biomedical Engineering of Cornell University. He is an editor of several journals, including the Journal of Neurosurgery and Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, he has served on the executive committee of the American and World Societies for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, and has served as program chair for annual meetings of the ASSFN and the Neurosurgical Society of America.
Dr. Kaplitt’s research has focused upon development and application of gene therapy in the nervous system of both experimental systems and human patients. As a beginning PhD student, he was an early adopter of the idea that modified viruses could transfer genes into cells, and used herpes based systems for initial gene transfer experiments in the adult rodent brain. He then reported in 1994 for the first time that adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors could successfully transfer genes into the living mammalian brain, a technology which is now used in nearly every neuroscience laboratory in the world. During his fellowship, he began to develop concepts from stereotactic neurosurgery which could be applied to human gene therapy, and in 2003 he became the first surgeon to apply gene therapy to the adult human brain. Results of this phase I trial were reported as a cover article in the Lancet in 2007, and led to the first successful randomized, double-blind study of CNS gene therapy. His laboratory continues to focus upon these technologies, and has made important contributions to understanding gene targets in specific brain regions which profoundly influence Parkinson’s disease, major depression and drug addiction.
Michael and his wife Jessica have a son, Chase, and he also has an older son Jeremy.