Director Named to Head Neurobiology Center

Michael S. Gazzaniga, an internationally recognized scientist whose work contributed significantly to the theory that human brain function occurs in two independent compartments -- the right and left "sides" of the brain -- has been selected to be the first director of the new Center for Neurobiology at the University of California, Davis. Currently a professor of psychiatry and director of the cognitive neuroscience program at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, Gazzaniga will assume his new position July 1, 1992, as well as join the Davis faculty as a professor of neurology at the campus' School of Medicine. As director of the UC Davis Center for Neurobiology, one of several new interdisciplinary teaching and research centers on campus, Gazzaniga will guide the overall development of the center. He will be actively involved in the recruitment of new faculty who will be center members, and he will play a key role in UC Davis' plans to construct a neuroscience building on campus. Research at the center will focus on understanding the nature of learning and memory, and how nerve cells and nerve networks such as the brain work. "The center has the potential for becoming one of the finest research groups on brain mechanisms in the world," said Gazzaniga. "It will serve both to integrate the rich and diverse resources already present at Davis in neurobiology and to significantly expand research into new areas." Considered a pioneer in the field of cognitive neuroscience, Gazzaniga laid the foundation for his career while earning his doctorate in psychobiology in the early '60s at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied "split-brain" patients -- individuals whose cerebral hemispheres had been surgically divided to control epileptic seizures. He and -more- 2-2-2 Neurobiology Director co-workers found that both the right and left hemispheres functioned independently and that each hemisphere excelled the other in some functions. Gazzaniga has continued split-brain studies throughout his career, most recently relying on magnetic resonance imaging for brain analysis. Widely respected for his contributions, Gazzaniga has received a number of awards and honors for his work. While a faculty member at Cornell University, he founded the cognitive neuroscience division at the university's medical college. At Dartmouth, he established the campus's cognitive neuroscience program. Gazzaniga is founder of the scientific publication Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, published since 1988, and currently serves as its editor in chief. In addition, he is president of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, which facilitates research and scholarly interactions. "The role of the first director of the Center for Neurobiology is both crucial and unique," said Robert Grey, dean of the UC Davis Division of Biological Sciences. "Dr. Gazzaniga brings the leadership experience and skills necessary for the position. "His appointment represents an important milestone in the establishment of the center, and in the further development of the biological sciences on the Davis campus."

Media Resources

Andy Fell, Research news (emphasis: biological and physical sciences, and engineering), 530-752-4533,