Dr. O'Banion received both his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Illinois School of Medicine, Champaign-Urbana, IL, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and served as valedictorian for his graduation class. Originally trained as a molecular virologist studying papillomaviruses, Dr. O'Banion pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Rochester in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, focusing upon viral oncogenesis and glucocorticoid regulation of gene expression. During this time, Dr. O'Banion played a prominent role in the characterization and cloning of cycloxygenase-2 (COX-2), for which he and colleagues were awarded US patents. This landmark discovery and the identification of the critical role of COX-2 in inflammation formed the foundation upon which mainstay anti-inflammatory drugs, now known as COX-2 inhibitors, were developed. Shortly thereafter, Dr. O'Banion was appointed Assistant Professor of Neurology, and initiated research into neuroinflammation and its role in neurodegenerative disease.
Dr. O'Banion's current research focuses upon pro-inflammatory cytokines and lipid mediators in traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, radiation injury, and psychiatric illnesses. Studies are carried out at several levels, including cellular and molecular aspects of gene regulation in tissue culture, pharmacological and transgenic manipulation in animal models, and analysis of human brain tissue.
In addition to his research activities, Dr. O'Banion is Director of the MD/PhD program and is the principal investigator of Rochester's Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). He teaches extensively in both graduate neuroscience courses and medical school curricula. He is co-director of the Medical Neurosciences courses, Mind Brain Behavior Levels I and II, for second and third year medical students. Dr. O'Banion also serves on the Instructional Committee for Medical School for third and fourth year medical students, as well as on the Curriculum Committee for the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and he Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy.