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Thu, 05.06.1965

Erich Jarvis, Neurologist, and Educator born

Erich Jarvis

*Erich D. Jarvis was born on this date in 1965. He is a Black Neurologist, Mathematician, and educator.

Born and raised in Harlem, he was one of four children of Sasha McCall, a gospel singer, and James Jarvis, a musician and science enthusiast. He attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York, where he studied dance, majoring in ballet. But his father's interests in science and the natural world and his mother's admiration of science influenced his career paths.

Jarvis received a BA degree with two majors, Biology and Mathematics, in 1988 from Hunter College in Manhattan. He went on to graduate school at Rockefeller University and received his Ph.D. in neurobiology in 1995, one of only 52 Blacks to earn a Ph.D. in biological sciences that year. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship, Jarvis received an appointment as an assistant professor in Duke's department of neurobiology. There he studied the evolution of vocal learning and the molecular biology of vocal learning.

Dr. Jarvis still finds time to take African dance classes with students at Duke University. He has a diverse lab, is the director of minority recruitment for his department, and enjoys challenging projects on how the brain generates complex behaviors. In December 2016, he moved to Rockefeller University as a professor and head of the laboratory for the Laboratory of Neurogenetics of Language. 

His cutting-edge research identifies the neurological basis of birdsong at the tissue, cellular and genetic levels. The focus of Jarvis' research is the vocal learning capabilities in birds and how they learn to mimic sounds. A recent project seeks to transform birds without songs, such as pigeons, into birds that sing by genetic neuro-engineering, e.g., injecting new genes into the forebrain. If successful, this could have implications for treating patients with loss of speech after a stroke.

To become a medical scientist.

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