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Neal Cohen Named Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Initiative Director
Neal Cohen, a professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and a member of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, brings a record of exceptional scholarship and administrative experience to the position. He currently serves as the founding director of the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory (CNLM, a partnership with Abbott Nutrition) and leads both the Neuroscience Program (NSP) and the Center for Lifelong Improvement of Minds and Brains (CLIMB) at the U of I.
In his new role, Professor Cohen will work closely with researchers across campus, as well as the Offices of the Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellor for Research, and relevant academic and research units, to develop a new Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute as envisioned in the Campus Strategic Plan. He will work to raise the campus profile and further develop its stature as a world leader in health research, strengthening existing – and developing new – relationships with local and regional health care providers, clinical sites, and community leaders. He will also work with federal agencies, private foundations, and industrial partners to enhance the visibility of campus health sciences research.
Administratively, Professor Cohen will oversee and align the operations of the Division of Biomedical Sciences to support the health research community on campus, transitioning current operations into the new Institute – a critical step in achieving the health-related goals of the Campus Strategic Plan.
Professor Cohen was selected for the role following a campuswide search earlier this year. His interests and interdisciplinary, innovative approach to research strongly align with the vision of the IHSI. A former MIT and Johns Hopkins University researcher, he joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990. His work on human learning and memory has been instrumental in identifying and characterizing multiple memory systems in the brain that support different aspects of performance, and has emphasized development of novel methods and paradigms for assessment of different aspects or forms of memory (e.g., using eye movements as a sensitive measure of memory). Work in his lab includes neuropsychological, functional imaging, and eye tracking studies of memory, intervention studies (exercise, fitness, and cognitive training) across the lifespan, and computational modeling.