January 19, 2005

Gerald EdelmanLOS ANGELES - Gerald M. Edelman, Director of The Neurosciences Institute, President of Neurosciences Research Foundation, Professor at the Scripps Research Institute and Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology at the Scripps Research Institute will deliver the 2004-2005 Jacob Marschak Memorial Lecture from 1-3pm on February 18 in Korn Hall. His presentation is entitled, “From Brain Dynamics to Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination.

The lecture is cosponsored by the Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavior Sciences at UCLA, the UCLA Brain Research Institute, the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, the UCLA Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life, the UCLA Center for Governance, the  Metanexus Institute Local Societies Initiative, and the Templeton  Foundation.

Dr. Edelman has made significant research contributions in biophysics, protein chemistry, immunology, cell biology, and neurobiology. His early studies on the structure and diversity of antibodies led to the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1972. He then began research into the mechanisms involved in the regulation of primary cellular processes, particularly the control of cell growth and the development of multicellular organisms. He has focused on cell-cell interactions in early embryonic development and in the formation and function of the nervous system. These studies led to the discovery of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), which have been found to guide the fundamental processes by which an animal achieves its shape and form, and by which nervous systems are built. One of the most significant insights provided by this work is that the precursor gene for the neural cell adhesion molecule gave rise in evolution to the entire molecular system of adaptive immunity.

Most recently, he and his colleagues have been studying the fundamental cellular processes of transcription and translation in eukaryotic cells. They have developed a method to construct synthetic promoters and have also been able to enhance translation efficiency by constructing internal ribosomal entry sites of a modular composition. These findings have rich implications for the fields of genomics and proteomics.

Dr. Edelman has formulated a detailed theory to explain the development and organization of higher brain functions in terms of a process known as neuronal group selection. This theory was presented in his 1987 volume Neural Darwinism, a widely known work. Dr. Edelman's continuing work in theoretical neuroscience includes designing new kinds of machines, called recognition automata, that are capable of carrying out tests of the self-consistency of the theory of neuronal group selection and promise to shed new light on the fundamental workings of the human brain. A new, biologically based theory of consciousness extending the theory of neuronal group selection is presented in his 1989 volume, The Remembered Present. A subsequent book, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, published in 1992, continues to explore the implications of neuronal group selection and neural evolution for a modern understanding of the mind and the brain. His book published with Giulio Tononi, entitled A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination, presents exciting new data on the neural correlates of conscious experience. In his latest book, published this year, entitled Wider than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness, Dr. Edelman offers a model of the biology of consciousness.

Dr. Edelman was born in New York City in 1929. He earned his B.S. degree at Ursinus College and an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent a year at the Johnson Foundation of Medical Physics, and after a medical house officership at the Massachusetts General Hospital, he served as a captain in the Army Medical Corps. In 1960 he earned his Ph.D. at The Rockefeller Institute (now University). In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Edelman has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including many honorary degrees. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and several foreign societies, including the Academy of Sciences, Institute of France. He is author of over 500 research publications.

Professor Edelman's Nobel Prize Biography

About the Marschak Colloquium
The Marschak Colloquium provides a forum for interaction among faculty, students, and visitors interested in the applications of mathematics and statistics in the behavioral sciences. The Colloquium sponsors presentations by leading experts in the fields of anthropology, architecture, artificial intelligence, biology, business, computer science, economics, education, engineering, geography, linguistics, management, operations research, philosophy, political science, psychology, public health, public planning and policy, sociology, and systems analysis.

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