Director of Research, MIND Institute, UC Davis
After spending the early part of his career at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Dr. Amaral joined the University of California, Davis in 1995 as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Neuroscience and is currently a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. In 1998, Dr. Amaral was named the Beneto Foundation Chair and founding Research Director of the MIND Institute which is dedicated to studying autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Amaral received a joint PhD in Psychology and Neurobiology from the University of Rochester and he carried out postdoctoral work at Washington University in neuroanatomy. Dr. Amaral pursues research dealing with the neurobiology of social behavior and with the development, neuroanatomical organization and plasticity of the primate and human amygdala and hippocampal formation. His research effort has increasingly been dedicated to understanding the biological bases of autism spectrum disorder. This work includes postmortem studies of the autistic brain and magnetic resonance imaging studies of children with autism spectrum disorder. He has also spearheaded efforts to establish nonhuman primate models of neuroimmune etiologies of autism spectrum disorder. As Research Director of the MIND Institute, he coordinates a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism called the Autism Phenome Project to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism. Most recently, Dr. Amaral has become Director of Autism BrainNet, a collaborative effort sponsored by the Simons Foundation to solicit postmortem brain tissue to facilitate autism research. In April of 2015, Amaral became Editor-in-Chief of Autism Research the journal of the International Society for Autism Research. In 2016, he was appointed to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.