Michael Chirillo, PhD

The University of Texas McGovern Medical School at Houston

Texas Medical Center


Remembering where you left your tiger: Synaptic remodeling in the mammalian brain

Michael’s educational background is eclectic. He began by studying bassoon performance and German studies at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. During his undergraduate studies, he spent time in southern Africa and the experiences he had there turned his attention to medicine and ultimately to biology. After finishing a master degree in music performance, Michael entered a combined MD/PhD program at two institutions, the McGovern Medical School at the Texas Medical Center in Houston and The University of Texas at Austin. Michael completed his doctorate in neuroscience in the lab of Kristen Harris at UT Austin in the spring of 2015. Using three-dimensional reconstructions from electron micrographs, Michael studied what structural remodeling occurs at the level of the synapse to support learning and memory. It was during his doctorate in Austin that Michael assisted Dr. Dee Silverthorn in her undergraduate human physiology course and began developing a love of teaching. After completing his doctorate, he returned to Houston to finish his medical degree requirements and will begin a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency this summer. Michael has a 12-year-old dog named Heidi whom he loves and in his off time enjoys embarrassing his friends and vegetable gardening. This is his third visit to the Balkans and Michael often finds himself overwhelmed by the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the landscapes. While he is no natural at foreign languages, he is attempting to learn some Serbian but is constantly astounded by the amount of cases employed in this language. You can hear him frequently practicing his favorite Serbian phrase: “Odoh da proverim zamku za tigrove.”