Skip to main content
NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Scientist Emeritus Pant Is Mourned

Scientist Emeritus Dr. Harish Pant died peacefully Dec. 22 at his home in Lake Forest, Ill., following a chronic illness. He was 85.

A bespectacled Pant speaks to someone outside of the frame. He wears a black suit and red and black striped tie.

Scientist Emeritus Dr. Harish Pant had worked at NIMH and NINDS.

“Described as a deep, thoughtful and kind person, Pant was committed to furthering the field of neuroscience and the fundamental understanding of neuronal physiology, translating his work to better the lives of those affected by neurological disorders, and helping those around him,” said Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). “He changed our understanding of neuroscience and neurodegenerative diseases and supported and inspired those who were fortunate to know him. His commitment to mentorship extended beyond borders, influencing hundreds of scientists globally.”

Pant was born on Jan. 1, 1938, in the remote farming village of Jakhera in Uttarakhand, India. He earned his Ph.D. in physics, with a specialty in molecular spectroscopy, from Agra University in India, and pursued postdoctoral studies at Michigan State University with a focus on electron and ion transport in model membrane systems.

After his graduate training, Pant joined Dr. Ichiji Tasaki in the Laboratory of Neurobiology at the National Institute of Mental Health in 1974. 

While working in Tasaki’s lab, Pant was introduced to the Marine Biological Laboratories (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass., and the giant squid axon model system—which was critical to many of Tasaki’s discoveries, such as saltatory conduction, and to Pant’s contributions to neuroscience. 

In his time at NIH and MBL, Pant worked closely with Dr. Harold Gainer, chief of NINDS’s Laboratory of Neurochemistry. 

In 1987, Gainer appointed Pant as chief of the section of neuronal cytoskeletal protein regulation. Pant made many critical contributions to the understanding of neuronal cell biology and the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders. 

His lab focused on understanding the mechanisms of topographic regulation of neuronal cytoskeleton proteins through post-translational modification, particularly the role of kinase cascades in normal brain function and contributing to neurodegeneration.

“Pant’s legacy will live on through his family, his seminal contributions to the field of neuroscience and those who trained and worked with him,” said Koroshetz.

Pant is survived by his wife of 50 years, Kamala, and children—Alok (Melissa) Pant, Manish (Kaylan) Pant and Garima Pant.

Back to Top