Jim Olds is currently in his 15th year as the second Director and Chief Academic Unit Officer of Mason’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study. The Institute, founded just over 20 years ago focuses on the intersection of neurobiology, cognitive sciences and computer science. Olds is concurrently the Shelley Krasnow University Professor of Molecular Neuroscience. Under Olds’ leadership the Institute has become a global scientific leader, tripled the size of its facility and created new academic programs for its students including the first United States doctoral program in computational social sciences. Over 150 faculty, staff and students call the Institute their academic home. The current White House BRAIN initiative has its origins in the international Decade of the Mind project which began at Krasnow in 2007 as part of Olds’ strategic vision for the Institute.
Scientific programs at Krasnow have received support from foundations such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Keck Foundation, and the Whitaker Foundation. They have also been supported by US Agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. Over Olds’ tenure, more than $55M worth of sponsored research has taken place at Krasnow.
The Institute’s institutional partners have included the Allen Brain Institute, the Janelia Farm Campus of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Oxford University, and the Humboldt University of Berlin among many others.
Olds serves on numerous private and public boards and has played a central role in scientific public policy development at all levels, ranging from Commonwealth of Virginia and the White House to advising heads of ministries internationally. He spent eight years as chair of Sandia National Laboratory’s External Cognitive Science Board. In the non-profit world, Olds was treasurer of Americans for Medical Progress. Olds has also served as a Virginia State Commissioner, appointed by Virginia governors of both political parties.
Prior to taking the leadership role at Krasnow, Olds led one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific societies, The American Association of Anatomists, as CEO. Olds received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College in chemistry and his doctorate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the field of neuroscience. His postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health led to fundamental advances in understanding the molecular basis of learning and memory, for which he was awarded the NIH Merit Award in 1993 .
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