Two Prominent Neurobiologists Join the Allen Institute for Brain Science

R. Clay Reid, M.D., Ph.D., and Ricardo Dolmetsch, Ph.D. to help design and implement large-scale scientific efforts aimed at advancing the field of neuroscience

March 12, 2012 View PDF

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, a nonprofit medical research organization dedicated to accelerating understanding of the human brain, announced today the appointment of two leading experts to its scientific leadership team. R. Clay Reid, M.D., Ph.D. will join the Allen Institute from Harvard Medical School, where he has served as a neurobiology faculty member for fifteen years. Ricardo Dolmetsch, Ph.D. will join the Allen Institute from Stanford University, where he has served as a faculty member in molecular pharmacology and neurobiology.

As key members of the Allen Institute's scientific leadership, Dolmetsch and Reid will oversee the development and execution of new large-scale initiatives designed to advance the field of neuroscience. Since its first public data release in 2004, the Allen Institute has generated a growing collection of online public resources detailing genes at work in the brain, which now attract more than 50,000 unique visits per month across the global research community. With these new appointments, the Institute is poised to build on its existing resources with future work in the direction of systems biology, neural circuitry, and information coding in the brain.

"We are delighted to have two such illustrious scientists join our team", said Allan Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. "Both Dr. Reid and Dr. Dolmetsch have successfully used interdisciplinary approaches to tackle fundamental questions about the brain and to expand the scale at which they can be addressed. Their expertise and scientific leadership will be invaluable as we further build our scientific team and extend our large-scale initiatives into new areas."

A member of the Harvard Medical School faculty since 1996, most recently as Professor of Neurobiology, Dr. Reid is a recognized authority on how the brain processes and makes sense of visual information. He has dedicated his career to investigating the functions of neural circuits in the brain, asking the general questions: what do neural circuits do, and how do they do it? He has approached these questions through a variety of methods, including electrophysiology, engineering, imaging and modeling, most recently using a combination of imaging and anatomical approaches to investigate how the structure of neural connections relates to functional brain circuitry. A recipient of the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award in 2001, Reid has long been regarded as a pioneering leader in the field.

"The opportunity to do science at such a scale, at an institution renowned for its pioneering approaches in large-scale neuroscience, is one that few scientists ever have," said Reid. "It's a great privilege to be a part of the Allen Institute, and I look forward to being a part of the Institute's talented and diverse scientific team."

On the faculty at Stanford University since 2003, Dr. Dolmetsch is a developmental neurobiologist and an expert in systems biology – how information is encoded at the molecular level inside cells to drive their development, identity and physiology. Combining biochemistry, genetics and microscopy, Dolmetsch has devoted much of his research to understanding the basis of neurobiological diseases such as autism. Through innovative approaches he has grown neurons from skin cells of people with autism and developed methods to understand more about how they form connections with other neurons and which genes are involved in the process. Dolmetsch has received numerous honors including the National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award and the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award.

"The Allen Institute has become a critical force in brain research, enabling progress and efficiencies in research programs throughout the field," said Dolmetsch. "I am excited to join the Institute and pursue new broad reaching initiatives that promise not only to help us understand how the brain is built, but also to provide critical insight into brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disability."

These two appointments are part of an overarching expansion plan that includes the addition of Christof Koch as Chief Scientific Officer and David Poston as Chief Operating Officer last year, the recent acquisition of approximately 15,000 square feet of additional laboratory space, and an active hiring program to expand its staff to support its scientific initiatives.