One week ago we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Miguel Nicolelis at UC Irvine to deliver the 24th Distinguished Lecture on Brain, Learning and Memory. During his talk, Dr. Nicolelis took us on a beautiful journey of his career. He described a 30-year long odyssey in fundamental neuroscience. When he finally took things to the clinic, the results were nothing short of astonishing. A young man who had been paralyzed for more than 9 years could finally walk again, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Nicolelis and his colleagues. And he was not alone. Advances in brain-machine interfaces are now helping countless like him walk again.

Dr. Nicolelis is a staunch advocate for building strong foundations in basic and fundamental neuroscience before moving to clinical translation. He shared with me his concerns that the current funding climate pressures scientists to move prematurely to translation and drains them of creativity. Without adequate support for fundamental science, the engine of discovery and innovation, we cannot successfully advance to therapeutic applications. Dr. Nicolelis’ work is a great example of how patience, perseverance, and dedication to fundamental science pays off!

If you missed the lecture, you can still watch it on the livestream page. It will also be available on our YouTube channel in the next few days.

We look forward to seeing you next year for the 25th Distinguished Lecture on Brain, Learning and Memory.

Michael A. Yassa, Ph.D.
Director, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory