Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology Director, Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience, Investigator, HHMIBiography
David J. Anderson is the Seymour Benzer Professor in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where he has been on the faculty since 1986. He is currently the Director of the TianQiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Anderson received his AB from Harvard College in 1978, did his PhD training with the late Günter Blobel, a Nobel Laureate at The Rockefeller University, and his postdoctoral work with Richard Axel, a Nobel Laureate at Columbia. He is an alumnus of the 1979 MBL Neurobiology Course. Dr. Anderson's research career has spanned multiple topics in neuroscience, from the study of neural crest stem cells that generate the developing peripheral nervous system, to the neural circuits that mediate innate emotional behaviors, such as fear and aggression. He has published over 225 primary research articles and is the co-author with Caltech colleague Ralph Adolphs of The Neuroscience of Emotion: a New Synthesis (2018, Princeton University Press). Dr. Anderson has trained over 50 PhD students or postdoctoral fellows. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002), the US National Academy of Sciences (2007), and is a recipient of the 2017 Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize and the 2018 Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience from MIT. Dr. Anderson played a key role as an adviser to the late Paul Allen in the founding of the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences and the creation of the Allen Brain Atlas, and continues to serve as an adviser to that Institute. He has also served on two working groups for the NIH's BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovation in Neurotechnology) Initiative. Dr. Anderson has engaged in the public communication of science through several channels. He published an OpEd in the New York Times, The Alchemy of Stem Cell Research (July 15, 2001), has delivered a TEDx talk ("Your Brain is More than a Bag of Chemicals," 2013) which has received almost 1.5 million views, has appeared on NPRs TED Radio Hour to discuss the talk, the National Edition of NPRs All Things Considered with Jon Hamilton (2019), and two episodes of Charlie Rose's Brain Series. His work on aggression in fruit flies has been profiled in the NY Times ("To study aggression, a fight club for flies," Feb. 3rd 2014).