Biographical sketch of Gerhard Werner, M.D.

    updated March 2006;

     Current Interest and work:

     The course I teach: Applied System Neuroscience

    I graduated from the Medical School of the University of Vienna, Austria, in 1945. I studied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University Vienna from 1946-1948. I completed Psychoanalytic Training with the Psychoanalytic Institute in Pittsburgh in 1975.

My initial research was in Pharmacology. Together with K. Ginzel and H. Klupp, I developed Succinylcholine as medication for controlled muscle paralysis in Anesthesiology and Electroshock Therapy. In both applications, its clinical usefulness has remained unsurpassed for the past 50 years. I also undertook the initial neuropharmacological investigation of Chlorpromazine which became the benchmark and parent compound for a large class of antipsychotic medications.

    After three years, each, on the Faculty of the School of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta, India, (under the auspices of WHO), and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, I worked with W.F. Riker at Cornell Medical College, New York City, discovering pharmacologically active receptors at mammalian motor nerve terminals.

    In 1960, I joined Vernon Mountcastle at Johns Hopkins University: we studied in primates the representation of tactile and joint sensation in the Somatic Area I of the cerebral cortex, introducing methods for the quantitative characterization of single neuron activity. This work launched me in Computer science which has become a steady involvement ever since. I was a member of the experimental group that assembled the LINC computer at MIT, as a new departure for Biomedical Computing.

    In 1965, I became Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh where I built for the next 10 years a Department with interdisciplinary emphasis on Neurosciences, Psychobiology, and biomedical computer applications. My own research continued in Neurophysiology of the somesthetic and the vestibular systems of subhuman primates and involved also developing computer models of neurological functions. Together with Harry Pople, I designed the first Artificial Intelligence Program based on the logical rules of  Abduction. Under the Chairmanship of Dr. William Raub of NIH, I served for several years on a panel for developing strategies and specifications for the Biomedical Information System PROPHET.

    In 1974, A assumed for 4 years the positions of Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, and VP for Professional Affairs at the University Health Center.

    Subsequently, I was for the next 10 years Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh, where I worked on developing Medical Expert Systems, and taught and practiced psychoanalytically and cognitively oriented Psychotherapy.

    In 1982, I was a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Advancement of Science. In 1983, I received the US Senior Scientist award of the A. v. Humboldt Foundation. In 1986, the Society of Neuroscience held a Satellite meeting at the University of Pittsburgh at the occasion of my 65th birthday.

    Following retirement from my academic career in 1989, I spent 5 years, each, at first as Assoc. Chief of Staff at a Veterans Administration Medical Center in Pittsburgh and, then as Research Scientist with Motorola in Austin, TX.

    At present, I am an adj. Professor with the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Texas at Austin.

    My current interests and work are in complex adaptive systems, nonlinear dynamics, and in the conceptual foundation of Neuroscience.   If you are interested in my current views on these topics, please consult these Web Pages:

         Computation in Nervous Systems   (2001).   The publications listed below are elaborations and extensions of the viewpoint
         outlined in this article.

Recent publications:

Siren call of Metaphor: subverting the proper task of Neuroscience: Journal of Integrative Neuroscence 3(3):245-252, 2004.

Perspectives on the Neuroscience of Cognition and Consciousnbess: BioSystems 87:82-95, 2007..

Metastability, Criticality and Phase Transitions in Brain and its Models: BioSystems 90:496-508, 2007.

Brain Dynamics across levels of Organization: Journal of Physiology (Paris): 101: 273-279, 2007.

Consciousness related neural events viewed as Brain State Space Transitions: Cognitive Neurodynamics 3:83-95, 2009.

Viewing brain processes as Critical State Transitions across levels of Organization: Neural events in Cogniiton and Consciousness and general principles: BioSystems 96:114-119, 2009.

On critical StateTtransitions between different levels in Neural Systems: New Mathematics and Natural Computation 5(1):185-196, 2009.

         Recently, I became interested in the modulation of neuronal ion channels by the extracellular environment in which they are
         embedded and to which they contribute. To sharpen my intution for possible effects of volume transmission on ion channels
         I conducted a simple simulation experiment wich, although quite elementary and requiring much refinement, has suggestive
         implications. The conceptual background and the results obtained thus far are reported in the following:        
         Neural Computation in Excitable Media

       

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