IU School of Medicine
Tatiana Foroud may not have ships of wood and hardy crews of sailors, but like Columbus and Magellan: she's out to redraw the maps of the known universe - only her universe is the human brain.
The IU School of Medicine researcher heads several major projects on the IUPUI campus which study the brain and how it misfires and contributes to such debilitating diseases as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, among others.
Foroud is the director of the hereditary genomics division, a part of the medical and molecular genetics department in the School of Medicine. The division's research, based at the genetic level, is interwoven with the school's emerging strengths in such fields as computational biology and bioinformatics, as well as ethical issues that relate to gene discovery and its applications - all fields at the heart of the life sciences initiative at IUPUI.
Her eagerness to "learn more" has made Foroud one of the world's leading authorities in the genetic implications of neurological diseases. She currently heads major investigations into Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and her well-deserved reputation made her an obvious choice as the first P. Michael Conneally Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics, named for the medical school's internationally recognized leader in genetics. The honor was special for Foroud, because Conneally - still active - was her mentor.
Foroud finds the IUPUI campus "perfectly suited" to the kind of collaborative research work her teams pursue, in large part because of explosive growth in interdisciplinary work on the campus.
"In some campuses, researchers are far more limited by the culture that surrounds them," she says. "Here, we cross lines between departments, disciplines and schools, and nobody blinks an eye. In fact, it's expected in order to explore the world of possibilities that exist."