We are pleased to announce that the Board of Regents today (Feb. 18) approved the appointment of Henry L. Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., as interim director of the Michigan Neuroscience Institute (MNI), effective March 1, 2021. In addition, Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D., has been named interim co-director of the institute.
The MNI, which evolved from the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute in the Medical School, was approved by regents in January 2020 to engage researchers from multiple disciplines and units across the University of Michigan in the pursuit of addressing the most pressing questions in neuroscience at the fundamental, translational, and clinical levels, while educating future leaders in the field.
Dr. Paulson is the Lucile Groff Professor of Neurology for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in the Department of Neurology. He joined the University of Michigan faculty in 2007, and he currently directs the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center and co-directs the University of Michigan Protein Folding Diseases Initiative.
He received his medical degree and doctorate in cell biology from Yale University in 1990. He then completed a neurology residency and neurogenetics/movement disorders fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1997, he joined the Department of Neurology faculty at the University of Iowa, where he remained for ten years before moving to the University of Michigan.
Dr. Paulson's research and clinical interests concern the causes and treatment of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on polyglutamine diseases, Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia. In 1997, his lab described abnormal protein aggregates in the polyglutamine diseases, which now are recognized as a pathological hallmark in this important class of inherited diseases. His lab also pioneered gene silencing strategies that are now finding their way into the clinic for various degenerative brain diseases.
Nationally, he has directed a national consortium of scientists and physicians studying genetic forms of ataxia, has served on the scientific advisory boards of numerous disease-related national organizations, and is a past chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health.
Among his recent awards, Dr. Paulson was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and received the Landis Outstanding Mentor Award from the NINDS. In 2020, he received the Movement Disorders Research Award from the American Academy of Neurology for his pioneering work into the causes and treatment of nucleotide repeat expansion diseases.
Dr. Flagel is a research associate professor in MNI, associate professor of psychiatry in the Medical School, and adjunct associate professor of psychology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. She became a faculty member in 2011.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in biopsychology from the University of Michigan, and her Ph.D. from the Neuroscience Graduate Program here. She is the founding director of the Kavli Neuroscience Innovators at the University of Michigan and director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse T32, Training Program in Neuroscience.
Dr. Flagel’s research focuses on understanding the psychological and neurobiological factors that contribute to individual differences in reward learning and susceptibility to addiction. Her work has identified key mechanisms and circuits that render some individuals more vulnerable to addiction. Her research was recently featured in Scientific American, underscoring its broad impact. She is an associate member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and a Kavli National Academy of Sciences fellow. She serves in leadership positions for the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society and the Society for Neuroscience, and is on the editorial board for the journals eLife and Neuropsychopharmacology.
In 2020, she received the A.E. Bennett Basic Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, which is granted annually to recognize outstanding contributions from young investigators in the field.
Please join us in congratulating Drs. Paulson and Flagel on their leadership appointments. We also would like to thank Huda Akil, Ph.D., and Stanley J. Watson, M.D., Ph.D., for their outstanding leadership of the institute for more than 25 years. Read more about their significant contributions to the field of neuroscience, and the University of Michigan, HERE.
Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, University of Michigan Medical School
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs
CEO, Michigan Medicine
Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Dean for Research, Medical School
Chief Scientific Officer, Michigan Medicine
Peter A. Ward Distinguished University Professor
Endowed Professor of Pathology Research