Peter F. C. Gilbert

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Peter F. C. Gilbert
Peter Francis Cecil Gilbert

(1944-07-07) July 7, 1944 (age 79)
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
  • MA
  • PhD
  • MSc
Alma mater
  • University of Cambridge
  • London Business School
Known forKnown for his pioneering work on motor learning in the cerebellum
Scientific career
  • Neuroscience
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular biology
  • University College London
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Yale University
  • State University of New York, Buffalo
  • Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge
  • University of Cambridge

Peter Francis Cecil Gilbert (born 7 July 1944) is an English neuroscientist and biophysicist. He is known for his pioneering work on motor learning in the cerebellum.[1]

Early life and education

Gilbert was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne.[2] He went on to attend Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge on a college scholarship, graduating in 1966 with a degree in natural sciences. Remaining in Cambridge, he pursued a PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, under the supervision of Aaron Klug, researching the structure of tobacco mosaic virus protein.[3][4][5]

Career and research

Upon finishing his PhD in 1970, Gilbert continued his research at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology as a staff scientist.[6] During this time, Gilbert developed Simultaneous Iterative Reconstruction Technique (SIRT) – an iterative method for reconstructing the three-dimensional structure of objects from two-dimensional projections.[7] The original SIRT, as proposed by Gilbert, along with the family of variants that it spawned (known as SIRT-like), have widespread applications across medicine and biology such as CT scans and cryo-EM.[8][9]

In 1974, Gilbert moved into the field of neuroscience, joining the laboratory of Sir John Eccles at the State University of New York, Buffalo as a visiting professor, where he investigated the neurophysiology of the monkey cerebellum. Towards the end of 1974 and after completing his work in the Eccles laboratory, Gilbert partnered with Dr W.T. Thach at Yale University. Over the next two years, at Yale and, later, at Washington University in St. Louis, the pair carried out pioneering work on cerebellar motor learning. By recording from the Purkinje cells of conscious monkeys learning a manual task, Gilbert and Thach tested and confirmed theoretical predictions[1] on motor learning in the cerebellum.

Besides his experimental work, Gilbert has produced a number of theories on cerebellar motor learning and has published his theories in Nature and other journals. Since 2000, he has expanded his focus from the cerebellum to the entire brain;[10] he is currently devoting his time to producing a unifying theory of brain function.

Personal life

Gilbert is the great-grandson of Sir Alfred Gilbert, the foremost member of the New Sculpture movement, and the nephew of Stephen Gilbert. He married twice and has four children.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gilbert, Peter F.C. (April 1974). "A theory of memory that explains the function and structure of the cerebellum". Brain Research. 70 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(74)90208-X. PMID 4822046.
  2. Medcalf, Jane (2017). "Old Novocastrians Magazine" (PDF). No. 100. Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne. p. 16.
  3. Leberman, R.; Finch, J.T.; Gilbert, P.F.C.; Witz, J.; Klug, A. (June 1974). "X-ray analysis of the disk of tobacco mosaic virus protein: I. Crystallization of the protein and of a heavy-atom derivative". Journal of Molecular Biology. 86 (2): 179–182. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(74)90010-2. PMID 4416913.
  4. Finch, J.T.; Gilbert, P.F.C.; Klug, A.; Leberman, R. (June 1974). "X-ray analysis of the disk of tobacco mosaic virus protein: II. The packing arrangement in the crystal". Journal of Molecular Biology. 86 (2): 183–192. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(74)90011-4. PMID 4416914.
  5. Gilbert, P.F.C.; Klug, A. (June 1974). "X-ray analysis of the disk of tobacco mosaic virus protein: III. A low resolution electron density map". Journal of Molecular Biology. 86 (2): 193–207. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(74)90012-6. PMID 4416915.
  6. Huxley, Hugh (2013). Memories and Consequences. Cambridge, UK: The Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology. p. 204. ISBN 978-184831-646-1.
  7. Gilbert, Peter (July 1972). "Iterative methods for the three-dimensional reconstruction of an object from projections". Journal of Theoretical Biology. 36 (1): 105–117. doi:10.1016/0022-5193(72)90180-4. PMID 5070894.
  8. Koning, Roman I.; Koster, Abraham J.; Sharp, Thomas H. (May 2018). "Advances in cryo-electron tomography for biology and medicine". Annals of Anatomy - Anatomischer Anzeiger. 217: 82–96. doi:10.1016/j.aanat.2018.02.004. PMID 29526767.
  9. Herman, Gabor T. (2009). Fundamentals of computerized tomography : image reconstruction from projections (2nd ed.). Dordrecht: Springer. p. 233. ISBN 978-1-84628-723-7.
  10. Gilbert, Peter F.C. (August 2001). "An outline of brain function". Cognitive Brain Research. 12 (1): 61–74. doi:10.1016/S0926-6410(01)00035-0. PMID 11489610.

External links

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