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April 1, 2003


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Names Dr. Stuart Zola Senior Research Career Scientist

ATLANTA ­­ Stuart Zola, Ph.D., director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, has been named a senior research career scientist (SRCS) by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The seven-year appointment, the highest honor the VA bestows on a Ph.D. scientist, provides continuing support for Dr. Zola’s memory and amnesia research at the Atlanta VA Medical Center (VAMC).

"Dr. Zola is an absolutely outstanding research scientist, one of only 58 VA senior research career scientists in the country and the only one at the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center," said Robert J. Pollett, M.D., Ph.D., chief of research and development at the Atlanta VAMC. "We are proud to have a scholar of Dr. Zola's accomplishments in such a clinically significant area focusing on exactly how and where different types of memories are stored and why there is specific loss of memory associated with brain injury, Alzheimer's disease and normal aging."

Entry to becoming a SRCS is through the VA’s research career scientist (RCS) program, which was developed to support established, non-clinical, independent investigators with up to five years of renewable funding.

Scientists selected as RCSs must have a minimum of six years of independent research support and must have current project support from the VA. They also are expected to have a successful record as principal investigators on merit-reviewed projects funded by the VA or other national agencies, a strong publications record, professional recognition and involvement, interaction with clinicians and/or managers in support of VA patient care, and an active role in teaching and mentoring other scientists. To advance to the level of SRCS, an investigator must have been a RCS for a minimum of five years.

Dr. Zola began working with the VA in 1993 when he was named a RCS. His first appointment was renewed in 1998.

As one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, Dr. Zola is widely regarded for his valuable insights into how the brain organizes memory and how this relates to memory problems such as amnesia. He also is well known for effectively communicating science and research to the public.

Dr. Zola spent most of his research career at the University of California, San Diego, where he focused on investigating memory formation, consolidation and retrieval. He is perhaps best known for developing an animal model of human amnesia that conclusively identified brain structures that play important roles in memory function. The findings from Dr. Zola’s animal-based research have been linked to concurrent research on human amnesia, through active collaboration with other researchers as well as his own work with human amnesic patients. This research has tremendous significance for gaining insight into the loss of memory that results from head trauma and characterizes progressive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as well as the memory problems that often accompany depression, chronic stress and normal aging.

In addition to his positions at Yerkes and the VA, Dr. Zola holds a concurrent appointment as professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine.

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University is one of eight National Primate Research Center funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Yerkes Center is a multidisciplinary research institute recognized as a leader in biomedical and behavioral studies with nonhuman primates. Yerkes scientists are on the forefront of developing vaccines for AIDS and malaria, and treatments for cocaine addiction, Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular disease. Other research programs include cognitive development and decline, childhood visual defects, organ transplant rejection and social behaviors of primates. Leading researchers located worldwide seek to collaborate with Yerkes scientists.

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