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Jim Olds

University Professor of Neuroscience, Policy and Government


Jim Olds received his PhD from the University of Michigan in neuroscience after finishing his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Amherst College. Following his doctoral degree, he spent six years as a staff fellow at the National Institutes of Health where he successfully imaged the activation of protein kinase C during learning and memory in the hippocampus, the brain structure most vulnerable to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

In 1995, Olds left the NIH to become the Executive Director of the American Association of Anatomists, a scientific society focused on the morphological phenotypes that produce the characteristics of animals. Then in 1998, Olds left the Association for George Mason, where he became the second director of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in addition to University Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular Neuroscience. Olds chaired that department for two years. 

After 16 years at the helm of the Krasnow Institute, Olds returned to government to head up the Biological Sciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation. With an annual budget of approximately $750 million, the Directorate, funds basic life sciences research at American universities and colleges including very large scientific infrastructure such as the National Ecological Observatory Network.

Following his term at NSF, Olds returns to the Schar School where he will serve as University Professor of Neuroscience and Public Policy. His research will be focused on the science of science policy, particularly in the context of public-private partnerships and international team science.

Areas of Research

  • Science Policy
  • Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Life Sciences
  • Team Science
  • Crisis Management in Science Agency Administration