Chancellor's Professor Frank LaFerla named new dean of biological sciences
He was the first to engineer mice that develop the cerebral plaques and tangles that characterize Alzheimer’s, providing researchers with a crucial “living laboratory” of the disease.
Irvine, Calif., Dec. 23, 2013 – UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake announced today that Frank M. LaFerla has been appointed the Hana & Francisco J. Ayala Dean of the School of Biological Sciences, effective Jan. 1, 2014.
LaFerla, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior since 2011, joined UC Irvine in 1995 as an assistant professor in the then-named Department of Psychobiology. Since that time, he has served in numerous leadership roles, including as associate director and now director of the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), a research center internationally acclaimed for its work on brain disorders, particularly those that are age-related.
He was also founding director of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, which united several departments and faculty concerned with neuroscience under one major programmatic initiative and has since facilitated the recruitment to UC Irvine of numerous outstanding graduate students.
LaFerla, who holds a doctorate from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, has several research interests, including the molecular biology of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, presenilins and calcium signaling, learning and memory, and transgenic and genetically modified animal models. He was the first to engineer mice that develop the cerebral plaques and tangles that characterize Alzheimer’s, providing researchers with a crucial “living laboratory” of the disease. LaFerla’s mice have made a huge impact on his work and on Alzheimer’s research around the world.
He has received several honors for his research accomplishments, including a promising work grant from the MetLife Foundation, the Ruth Salta Junior Investigator Achievement Award from the American Health Assistance Foundation (now the BrightFocus Foundation), the Zenith Fellows Award from the Alzheimer’s Association, the UC Irvine Faculty Innovation Award, and the UC Irvine Academic Senate’s Distinguished Mid-Career Faculty Award for Research.
LaFerla is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an elected member of the American Neurological Association, the American Society for Cell Biology, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and the Society for Neuroscience. He is a frequent guest speaker at local, national and international venues and is a current board member of the Orange County Alzheimer’s Association.
About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.
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