Roberta Brinton, PhD

Director, Center for Innovation in Brain Science
Roberta Brinton Portrait
she, her, hers

Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, is the director of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences.  Dr. Brinton is a leading neuroscientist in the field of Alzheimer’s, the aging female brain and regenerative therapeutics.

The Center for Innovation in Brain Science works to accelerate the advancement of evidence-based clinical care of brain disorders caused by disease, genetics or trauma. The Center focuses on research and scholarship across the spectrum of brain disorders and the emerging area of brain and cognitive development, with particular emphasis on four areas of current UAHS strength: cognitive aging in health and disease, chronic pain and traumatic brain injury, stroke and aphasia, and integrative/systems neuroscience. The Center works to speed the development of novel, multidisciplinary approaches to address neurodegenerative diseases through research, clinical practice interventions, education and community collaborations.

Dr. Brinton joined the UA from the University of Southern California where she was the R. Pete Vanderveen Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development and professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the School of Pharmacy; professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine; and professor of biomedical engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering. She also was director of the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation Laboratory for Neuroscience Research and the Science, Technology And Research (STAR) science education outreach program. From 2007 to 2014, she served as director of Preclinical Translation and Regulatory Support, USC Clinical and Translational Science Institute (USC and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles).

She has been principal investigator for major National Institutes of Health-funded program project and center grants focused on brain disorders, and her research has been continuously funded by NIH for more than 20 years.

Dr. Brinton currently serves on the NIH Director’s Center for Scientific Review Advisory Council and the Board of Governors of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (New York). She has served on the National Institute of Mental Health Scientific Intramural Review Program Board of Scientific Counselors and the National Institute of Mental Health Blue Ribbon Panel. Currently, she serves on the scientific review boards for the National Institute on Aging Review Panels, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association. Her professional memberships include the Society for Neuroscience and the International Brain Research Organization/World Federation of Neuroscientists. Dr. Brinton is co-founder of CoCensys, a biotechnology company engaged in the development of ethical pharmaceuticals to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Brinton has received numerous awards and recognition for her research and STEM education initiatives. Notably, she recently was honored as Woman of the Year by Los Angeles magazine for her translational research that is creating innovative therapies to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. She was included in U.S. News & World Report’s 2005 “Ten Best Minds” list, received the 2006 Society for Neuroscience Science Educator of the Year, and was awarded one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal, presented by President Barack Obama, for her work in promoting careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among minority students.

Dr. Brinton has more than 160 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and has authored 30 book chapters and invited reviews. She is an internationally recognized neuroscientist with more than 250 invited presentations worldwide.  She serves on the editorial review board for Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions and reviews for numerous scientific journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

Dr. Brinton earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology (Summa Cum Laude Honors, Phi Beta Kappa), her master’s degree in neuropsychology, and her doctorate in neuropharmacology and psychobiology as a National Institutes of Health Predoctoral fellow, from the University of Arizona. She continued her research as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology in New York from 1984 to 1986. In 1987, she was an invited scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel; the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Utrecht, the Netherlands; and the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Amsterdam. She joined the USC School of Pharmacy faculty in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology in 1988.