Li-Huei Tsai is a neuroscientist who investigates disorders of memory and cognition, in particular conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, at scales ranging from the molecular to that of circuits and systems. Her research has highlighted important roles in neurodegeneration for the dysregulation of chromatin and genomic integrity as well as the kinase Cdk5, and her lab has pioneered the use of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell cultures and CRISPR gene editing to investigate how Alzheimer’s risk genes lead to disease pathology. Her work investigating dysfunction in neural circuits and networks has led to the discovery in multiple mouse models that sensory stimulation of 40 Hz gamma oscillations, and their associated synchrony (which is diminished in Alzheimer’s disease), produce widespread ameliorative effects including a reduction in amyloid and tau pathology, prevention of neurodegeneration and synapse loss, and preservation of learning and memory.
Li-Huei is the Director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, where she is also the Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. In addition, she is a Founder of the Aging Brain Initiative and a Co-Director of the Alana Down Syndrome Center. Among other honors, she has received the Hans Wigzell Research Foundation Science Prize, the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, and the Mika Saltpeter Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. She earned her PhD degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas before completing her postdoctoral work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1994, Dr. Tsai joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School and was named an investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1997. She was appointed a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006.