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Scientific Advisors

As a premier research institute dedicated to unifying pediatric neuroscience research efforts, the leaders at Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital regularly seek advice and perspectives from leading researchers in diverse fields around the globe as well as leading experts in healthcare, science, technology, and pharmaceutical drug development. 

Our advisory group includes:

Albert-László Barabási, Ph.D., physicist and engineer, is Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research, and holds appointments in the Departments of Physics, Computer Science, and Biology, as well as in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women Hospital, and is a member of the Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He introduced the concept of scale-free networks and proposed the Barabási-Albert model to explain their widespread emergence in natural, technological, and social systems, from the cellular telephone to the WWW and online communities. His brilliance in bioinformatics, applying mathematical algorithms to disease-oriented research and biological problems, and his perspective on networks will provide creative input into the scientific collaborations possible via the NRI from both scientific and human interaction perspectives, and will help us recruit the best bioinformatic minds to the NRI.

Nathaniel Heintz, Ph.D., HHMI Investigator, is the James and Marilyn Simons Professor at Rockefeller University. He greatly advanced the field of neuroscience through technology to construct and identify patterns of gene expression in individual neurons, both revealing differences between cells that were hitherto thought to be identical, and providing genetic access to these cells in health and disease via the BAC vectors. His recent development of "tethered toxins" to manipulate neuronal function has far-reaching implications. His pioneering work is leading us towards a fuller and more explicit understanding of the specific cellular elements that compose the brain. His understanding of collaborative science and resource development will provide invaluable perspective to the NRI.

Story Landis, Ph.D. is the former director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health. She was the director of the institute between 2003 to 2014. Prior to that, she was a faculty member in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. One of her most important research contributions is the revolutionary discovery that nerve cells can change their transmitter properties. She and her colleagues discovered that sympathetic neurons that make norepinephrine could be coaxed into releasing acetylcholine, depending upon the target that they innervate. Dr. Landis was a founding co-chair of the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, a highly successful effort to support trans-NIH activities in the brain sciences and was named Chair of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force in 2007. She has received many honors, is an elected fellow of the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

S. Lawrence Zipursky, Ph.D., HHMI Investigator, is Professor of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine. His area of interest is how communication between neurons relies on precise patterns of interconnections between them. He is unraveling the molecular mechanisms by which these connections form during development using Drosophila as a model organism. His perspective on how studies of neuronal circuitry in the Drosophila model can lead to basic as well as translational breakthroughs will provide invaluable guidance to the NRI.