James Olds, Director and Chief Academic Unit Officer

Professional Biography of James L. Olds

Jim Olds received his bachelors of arts degree in Chemistry from Amherst College in 1978. After graduating, Olds interned on Capitol Hill for the United States House of Representatives researching chemical aspects of mid-future electrical energy alternatives for the New England Congressional delegation whose members at the time included such leaders as Speaker “Tip” O’Neill, Paul Tsongas, Edward Markey and Silvio Conte.

Olds entered the Neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan in 1983, and received his Ph.D. (1987) in neurosciences from that institution. His thesis advisor was Bernard W. Agranoff, the Director of the Neuroscience Laboratory and the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

Following the award of his doctorate, Dr. Olds continued his training as a post-doctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (LMCN), NINDS at the National Institutes of Health. Laboratory Chiefs of LMCN included, among others, Dr. J. Craig Venter and Dr. Daniel L. Alkon. Commencing in 1989, Olds published a series of papers which, for the first time, imaged learning-specific changes in the distribution of the activated form of the enzyme protein kinase C in the brains of both invertebrates and mammals. For this work and follow-up studies, Dr. Olds received the NIH award of merit in 1993. In 1994 Dr. Olds was appointed as a senior staff fellow in the newly formed Laboratory of Adaptive Systems (LAS), NINDS. During this period of time Dr. Olds founded the internet news group “bionet.neurosciences”. Thousands of articles have been posted to this internet news group from all over the world. Dr. Olds shares authorship of two U.S. Patents for novel CCD-based imaging devices which image radioligand distributions directly from biological tissue.

During his government service, Dr. Olds also served as U.S. project officer on two successive government R&D contracts to develop novel biologically-based computer algorithms which emulate human associative learning and image comprehension.

Dr. Olds also has had a close affiliation with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole Massachusetts since 1978. In 1991 Dr. Olds was elected a member of the MBL Corporation. In 1994, Dr. Olds led a team of MBL summer investigators which, for the first time, imaged the activation of protein kinase C in living sea urchin eggs following fertilization using laser-scanning confocal microscopy. In 1995 Dr. Olds moved to the private sector to become the Executive Director of the American Association of Anatomists, a professional scientific society representing some 2,500 biomedical scientists. During his tenure, membership and participation in the Society’s annual meeting grew significantly. He was also responsible for creating the Association’s web site and using it to reinvigorate the Society’s public affairs presence.

In summer of 1998, Olds departed the Association to accept the position of Director and CEO at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, an independent research institution located on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia. Following the Institute’s merger with George Mason University in 2002, Olds remained as Director and Chief Academic Unit Officer. Concurrently he is the Shelley Krasnow University Professor of Neuroscience at George Mason University and Chair of the Department of Molecular Neuroscience. He has an additional academic faculty appointment at the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda Maryland. In August 2004, he was named editor-in-chief of the journal Biological Bulletin.

In a volunteer role, Olds served as a political appointee on the Commonwealth Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Commission from 1998-2004 under both Republican and Democratic governors. Dr. Olds has served on grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. He served on the American Association of Anatomist’s Public Affairs Committee from 1995-2002. Dr. Olds also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Cognitive Dynamics from 2007-2010. Olds also served on the boards of Americans for Medical Progress and the George Mason University Foundation. As a scientist and public policy expert Dr. Olds has been an invited speaker to many domestic and international meetings to speak on topics ranging from brain imaging to global warming. Dr. Olds is also a member of the Cosmos Club.