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University of Texas at Austin learning and memory research program grows

University of Texas at Austin learning and memory research program grows
AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Learning and Memory has recruited and hired six top scientists intent upon understanding how the brain processes information, learns and remembers events in our everyday lives.

“There is a need for neuroscience and a demand for a strong neuroscience program at UT,” said Professor of Neurobiology Dan Johnston, who became director of the Center for Learning and Memory (CLM) and the Institute for Neuroscience in 2004.

Johnston said the university has primed itself to become a top-five neuroscience program in the nation within the next five years.

He said at least five scientists will be hired in the next three years to bring the total number of faculty to about twelve, including himself. All CLM faculty teach undergraduate or graduate courses.

The new hires include Drs. Richard Aldrich, Kristen Harris, Helmut Koester, Guosong Liu, Michael Mauk and Alison Preston. Aldrich, Harris and Koester have already begun working and teaching at the university, while Mauk and Preston will join by Summer 2007.

Johnston said that the new recruits to the CLM are top researchers in their fields, and importantly, they are interested in collaboration.

“Our goal is to have all these people working on different levels of analysis of brain function and to collaborate with one another,” Johnston said. “We are seeking the best people we can find.”

CLM scientists are investigating mechanisms of memory from the levels of single proteins and cells, to whole animals and human beings. They interact with other university experts in diverse fields, like psychology, molecular biology, computer sciences and engineering.

Johnston said that the more scientists learn about the brain, the more can be understood about disease states of the mind, including learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, memory decline in the aging brain and depression.

CLM’s newest faculty members:

  • Dr. Richard Aldrich, formerly of Stanford University, studies the molecular mechanisms of ion channel function. Aldrich is the new chair of the Section of Neurobiology.

  • Dr. Kristen Harris, formerly of Harvard Medical School and Boston University, studies the role of changes in synapse structure and composition in learning and memory. Harris is a professor of neurobiology and retains an adjunct professorship at the Medical College of Georgia.

  • Dr. Helmut Koester, formerly of the Baylor College of Medicine, studies network activity of neurons using optical imaging and high-speed lasers. Koester is an assistant professor of neurobiology.

  • Dr. Guosong Liu, formerly of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studies mechanisms regulating plasticity in hippocampal synapses. Liu is an adjunct professor of neurobiology and maintains residence in California.

  • Dr. Michael Mauk, of the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, studies motor learning in the cerebellum. He is interested in computer simulation of the cerebellum and is working towards building an artificial cerebellum. Mauk will join CLM in 2007.

  • Dr. Alison Preston, of Stanford University, studies memory in the medial temporal lobe using functional magnetic resonance imaging on humans. Preston will join CLM in 2007.

Learn more about the CLM at www.clm.utexas.edu.
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Saturday, 29 January 2022

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