Frank LaFerla, PhD

Frank M. LaFerla is the Hana and Francisco J. Ayala Dean of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences, as well as Chancellor’s Professor and former chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior since 2011.  He joined UC Irvine in 1995 as an assistant professor in the then-named department of psychobiology. Since that time he has served in numerous leadership roles, including director of UCI MIND (Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders), a research center internationally acclaimed for its work on disorders of the brain, particularly those that are age-related. Currently, Dr. LaFerla is the director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at UCI. 

Dr. LaFerla received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. The broad goal of Dr. LaFerla’s lab is to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by developing and using novel animal models in parallel with studies from affected human subjects.

He has received several honors for his research accomplishments, including the Promising Work Award from the Metropolitan Life Foundation for Medical Research, the Ruth Salta Investigator Achievement Award from the formerly-named American Health Assistance Foundation (now BrightFocus Foundation), the Zenith Fellows Award from the Alzheimer Association, and from his own institution the UCI Innovators Award and the Senate Distinguished Mid-career Faculty Research Award.

Dr. LaFerla is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an elected member of the American Neurological Association, the American Society for Cell Biology, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and the Society for Neuroscience. He is a frequent guest speaker at local, national, and international venues, and is a current member of the board of directors of the Orange County Alzheimer’s Association.

"Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease affecting the very essence of what makes an individual unique.  Unfortunately, current treatments offer no preventive effect, nor can they delay its progression. Seeing how this devastating disease affects several of my relatives has provided my motivation to find a way to prevent, or possibly cure this devastating neurological disorder.  I press forward with research today, knowing that the work we do and the discoveries we make fuel the hope of tomorrow for a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

Now is the time to increase the support for research into new therapeutics, and to advance the understanding of how concomitant diseases may accelerate AD onset. The insightful staff and scientific experts of the BrightFocus Foundation have recognized that studies exploring the relationship between AD and diabetes are critical."