Henry L. Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., named interim director of Michigan Neuroscience Institute; Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D., named interim co-director

February 19, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

The board of regents on Thursday approved the appointment of Henry L. Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., as interim director of the Michigan Neuroscience Institute (MNI), effective March 1. In addition, Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D., has been named interim co-director of the institute.

The MNI, which evolved from the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute in the medical school, was approved by the regents in January 2020 to engage researchers from multiple disciplines and units across U-M in the pursuit of addressing the most pressing questions in neuroscience at the fundamental, translational and clinical levels, while educating future leaders in the field.

Paulson is the Lucile Groff Professor of Neurology for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders in the Department of Neurology. He joined the U-M faculty in 2007, and he currently directs the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center and codirects the U-M Protein Folding Diseases Initiative.

Paulson’s research and clinical interests concern the causes and treatment of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on polyglutamine diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. In 1997, his lab described abnormal protein aggregates in the polyglutamine diseases, which now are recognized as a pathological hallmark in this important class of inherited diseases. His lab also pioneered gene silencing strategies that are now finding their way into the clinic for various degenerative brain diseases.

Among his recent awards, Paulson was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and received the Landis Outstanding Mentor Award from the NINDS. In 2020, he received the Movement Disorders Research Award from the American Academy of Neurology for his pioneering work into the causes and treatment of nucleotide repeat expansion diseases.

Flagel is a research associate professor in MNI, associate professor of psychiatry in the U-M Medical School, and adjunct associate professor of psychology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. She became a faculty member in 2011.

Flagel’s research focuses on understanding the psychological and neurobiological factors that contribute to individual differences in reward learning and susceptibility to addiction. Her work has identified key mechanisms and circuits that render some individuals more vulnerable to addiction.

In 2020, she received the A.E. Bennett Basic Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, which is granted annually to recognize outstanding contributions from young investigators in the field.

Please congratulate Paulson and Flagel on their leadership appointments. And be sure to thank Huda Akil, Ph.D., and Stanley J. Watson, M.D., Ph.D., for their outstanding leadership of the institute for more than 25 years. Read more about their significant contributions to the field of neuroscience, and U-M, here.