Robin Scott Fisher, an internationally known UCLA neuroscientist and anatomist who made seminal contributions to understanding the development and function of the central nervous system, died of a heart attack on Nov. 11 in Philadelphia. He was 61.
A professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and neurobiology at UCLA, he was serving as a visiting professor of cell and developmental biology at the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania at the time of his death.
An exemplary faculty member who served the UCLA community with distinction, Fisher was associate dean of the Graduate Division for 10 years and worked in the fellowship and support section as well as with postdoctoral fellows under Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, who was then vice chancellor and dean of the division.
He also served extensively in the UCLA Academic Senate since September and was parliamentarian and a divisional officer of the Legislative Assembly at the time of his death. Among the positions he ably filled was chair of the Committee on Rules and Jurisdiction at UCLA as well as systemwide and a member of the Committee on Committees.
He received his Ph.D. from Ohio University in 1979 and, after working for a short period as a postdoctoral trainee at Purdue University, he joined the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at UCLA in that same year.
Earlier in his career, he focused his research on the cellular anatomy of the basal ganglia, areas of the brain involved in the etiology of neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s and Huntington's diseases. More recently, Professor Fisher devoted his expertise to examining cortical development. He was co-author of more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, several book chapters and numerous abstracts.
Fisher cared greatly about students and his role in preparing them, not only for their future medical careers, but to have an intense intellectual curiosity about the world around them, those close to him said. Recognized as an outstanding teacher, he received awards and honors for his sustained academic distinction in teaching of anatomy and neuroanatomy.
His ebullience, humor, and wide and deep knowledge will be missed by his students, colleagues and friends, his fellow department members said. Those throughout the university community who worked closely with him will remember his bon mot and wit as well as his compassion.
Fisher is survived by his wife, Carrie.
Details about a memorial service will be forthcoming.