For decades, scientists across numerous disciplines have worked to develop treatments for drug addiction, obesity and dementia, conditions that take an immeasurable toll on individuals and society. Now, highly original research by American University Distinguished Professor Terry Davidson suggests a transformative approach to these problems.
Davidson and other members of AU's Center for Neuroscience and Behavior are poised to dramatically improve our understanding of the factors that influence susceptibility to drug abuse, overeating, and other disorders of cognitive and behavioral control. In collaboration with other Center researchers, Davidson’s innovative research investigates how the energy-dense western diet increases the brain’s vulnerability to addiction, obesity, and even cognitive dementia. The cross-disciplinary deep dive by AU neuroscientists presents an unparalleled opportunity to address the root causes of these serious threats to human health and well-being, potentially leading to practical, effective means of prevention and treatment.
Davidson’s pioneering work resonates deeply with university trustee and Congressman David Trone and his wife, June, whose generous $5 million gift will establish the Trone Family Eminent Scholar Chair in Neuroscience and Behavior. The endowment is an acknowledgement of just how significant these health threats are, and reflects the Trones' goal of turning scientific discovery into policy and action.
In making this gift, David said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the health threat of these disorders and the lack of effective, accessible treatments. June and I believe the research at AU’s Center for Neuroscience and Behavior has the potential to drive transformational change in the way we view, treat, and legislate issues of addiction and mental health.”
- $5 million
The Trone Family Eminent Scholar Chair in Neuroscience and Behavior
- David and June Trone, through the David and June Trone Family Foundation
By marshalling top scientists with strong research programs like Davidson's, AU’s cutting-edge Department of Neuroscience is establishing a zone of distinction that puts the university on par with leading local and national neuroscience institutions. The department is home to award-winning researchers who are well-known experts in autism, memory, pharmacology, endocrinology, and brain processes underlying cognition. They are joined by faculty from many other disciplines—from biology and psychology to chemistry, mathematics, and computer programming—who are members of the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior. AU's new, state-of-the-art Hall of Science, opened in September 2020, is now the long-term hub for science at AU.
“The impressive strength and reputation of our faculty combined with the opening of the new Hall of Science will raise AU’s visibility on the world stage of science and will dramatically enhance the university’s ability to recruit senior neuroscientists and the most promising junior neuroscience researchers to our faculty,” said Davidson.
Effectively solving society’s most difficult health challenges requires bold innovation across scientific platforms and leadership that pushes beyond the status quo. AU’s innovative and collaborative scientific research in neuroscience can help unlock—and transform—how society addresses its most pernicious health epidemics.