(SAN FRANCISCO) Dr. Michael Merzenich, PhD – renowned neuroscientist, university professor, cochlear implant inventor, brain plasticity expert and tech entrepreneur – has been formally inducted in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) today in Washington, D.C. Also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Merzenich is one of a small group of scientists and doctors in the U.S. who have been selected for recognition by both institutions. IOM members are elected by their peers through a selective process that recognizes people who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.
“I am, of course, delighted by the generosity of my colleagues to be chosen for this honor,” said Dr. Merzenich, currently co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Posit Science. “The discovery of the brain’s ability to rewire itself has been at the core of my life’s work, and I have been very fortunate to have worked with some of the brightest scientists, technologists and clinicians in the world with the mission of applying our science to improve the quality of life for others.”
Dr. Merzenich is currently working with scientists and doctors at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on mental health solutions, including recent promising studies on the use of brain fitness training conducted in pathologically aging, brain-injured, autistic and schizophrenic patient populations.
“Mike has been a pioneer and a leader in demonstrating that the brain function and wiring is sensitive to neural activity. His basic work has elucidated mechanisms underlying this plasticity, and his translational work has illuminated the possible ways medicine can intervene to ameliorate brain disorders,” said Dr. John Rubenstein, MD, PhD, distinguished professor in Child Psychiatry at UCSF and an IOM member. “His work has revolutionized the way we view the brain’s plasticity and his latest work in mental disorders illustrates his sincere dedication to alleviate human suffering.”
For more than three decades, Dr. Merzenich has been a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research. In 1971, Dr. Merzenich joined the faculty of UCSF and started the Keck Center for Integrative Neurosciences. In the late 1980’s, Dr. Merzenich was part of the team that invented the cochlear implant. In 1990 he became a full professor at UCSF in Neuroscience, Physiology, Biomedical Engineering and Otolaryngology. He is currently Professor Emeritus in the departments of Otolaryngology and Physiology at UCSF.
In 1996, Dr. Merzenich was the founding CEO of Scientific Learning Corporation (NASDAQ:SCIL), which markets and distributes software that applies principles of brain plasticity to assist children with language learning and reading. In 2003, Posit Science was begun by Dr. Merzenich and Jeff Zimman to take neuroscience out of the labs and put it into the hands of consumers with engaging adaptive brain fitness software. Dr. Merzenich has published more than 200 articles, including many in leading peer-reviewed journals (such as Science and Nature), received numerous awards and prizes (including the Ipsen Prize, Zülch Prize, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award and Purkinje Medal) and has been granted more than 50 patents for his work.
Dr. Merzenich holds a BS in General Science from the University of Portland and a PhD in Physiology from Johns Hopkins University, with a Neuroscience fellowship from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. To read his blog, go to http://merzenich.positscience.com/.