Dr. Ian Robertson has joined the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas as the T. Boone Pickens Distinguished Scientist. His research seeks to improve brain health and cognitive performance in the aging population, with a particular focus on various brain stimulation methods.
Robertson’s most recent efforts as co-director of the Global Brain Health Institute focus on building a worldwide alliance to train future leaders in brain health who will shape policies and practices around the globe to enhance brain health and delay or prevent dementia.
“Dementia is more costly than stroke, heart disease and cancer combined,” Robertson said. “It is critical that we find ways to prolong brain health to match our ever increasing lifespan. Pooling expertise and expanding capacity to develop new protocols and practices that bridge the gap between research silos to translational application excites me for future scientific discoveries to be made in collaboration with researchers at the Center for BrainHealth.”
Among healthy adults, cognitive brain performance peaks, on average, around 40 years old, and estimates suggest the number of those living with dementia will triple by 2050. What’s promising is that research suggests that up to 30 percent of dementia cases are preventable through public health and lifestyle interventions.
Robertson’s scientific study at the center will focus on investigating non-pharmacological interventions to improve cognitive performance and brain health using psychophysiological measures and neuroimaging in partnership with Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and chief director of the center and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair, and Dr. Robert Rennaker, Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering and director of the Texas Biomedical Device Center.
“One cannot consider the individual brain in isolation; it is a complex system with multiple interactions between mind, brain, body and environment,” Robertson said. “Future treatments of mind-brain disorders will need to discover and foster smart ways to influence brain function and improve real-life outcomes using modern technology and cognitive neuroscience-based methods in collaboration with molecular and cellular biology methods.”
"Dr. Robertson’s research accomplishments are impressively extensive and diverse,” said Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, president ad interim. “He brings to the Center for BrainHealth not only his individual knowledge, insights, and creative research ideas, but also offers a very significant expansion of the center’s international network of scientific advisors and collaborators. He is a very articulate and charismatic expositor of the values and promises of the brain sciences, and will bring a powerful portfolio of talents to augment the scientific strength of the center and its educational outreach efforts as well."
Robertson is currently the Chair of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin and founding director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. He was a Fellow at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, and has visiting professorships at University College in London and Columbia University in New York. Robertson has published more than 400 papers and several books, including co-authoring the leading international textbook on cognitive rehabilitation. In 2014, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for Psychological Science in recognition of his “sustained and outstanding distinguished contributions to psychological science.”
"Understanding how the brain works and improving brain performance is key to quality of life,” said T. Boone Pickens, the Texas energy executive who has been a major underwriter of the center. "The Center for BrainHealth is developing breakthroughs in this field. I like being involved with people who are on the forefront of discovery that will change the future for the better. It’s clear they are committed to bringing the best talent on board to achieve their objectives, and their partnership with Dr. Ian Robertson truly exemplifies that fact."