Erik De Schutter was born in Antwerp, Belgium. He studied medicine and got his MD in 1984 at the University of Antwerp, where he subsequently specialized as a neuropsychiatrist. During his medical residency he started work on computational modeling of central pattern generation in the leech. In 1990 he became a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology where he developed his famous Purkinje cell model. He returned in 1993 to the University of Antwerp to start the Theoretical Neurobiology group, with a focus on modeling the cerebellum. He became a senior lecturer at the University of Antwerp in 1999 and was promoted to professor in 2006. His research in Antwerp contributed to understanding synaptic plasticity and oscillations in the cerebellum and on software development for reaction-diffusion modeling and automated parameter searching. The group also contributed experimental studies on cerebellar physiology.
Erik De Schutter became in a 2007 a principal investigator and since 2011 a professor at OIST where he leads the Computational Neuroscience Unit (see Publications). There he continued work on neuronal excitability and molecular modeling of synaptic plasticity, but also expanded into analysis and development of dendritic morphology. More recently he published a new Purrkinje cell model and started development of software for nanoscale modeling of neurons and synapses.
September 2018 - August 2022 he was Chair of the Faculty of OIST.
Erik De Schutter is involved with several international organizations promoting computational neuroscience. He is ex-president of the Organization for Computational Neuroscience.