David Amaral, Ph.D.

David Amaral, Ph.D.Beneto Foundation Chair, MIND Institute; University of California Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Center for Neuroscience, School of Medicine; Core Investigator, California National Primate Research Center
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

Phone:  916-703-0225
E-mail:  dgamaral@ucdavis.edu

David G. Amaral, Ph.D. received his undergraduate education at Northwestern University and graduated with a degree in Psychology. He then moved to the University of Rochester where he received a joint Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Psychology. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University. He then moved to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where he remained for 13 years. During this period he was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego.

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. He is also a staff scientist at the California National Primate Research Center. Dr. Amaral was named the Beneto Foundation Chair and Research Director of the MIND (Medical Investigations of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute in 1998. The MIND Institute is dedicated to understanding the biological bases of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders with the goal of developing preventative measures and innovative treatments.

Dr. Amaral’s laboratory pursues research programs dealing with the neurobiology of primate social behavior and with the development and neuroanatomical organization of the primate and human amygdala and hippocampal formation. He has also carried out a longstanding program designed to understand the organization of brain regions involved in memory. His research now also includes postmortem studies of the autistic brain and magnetic resonance imaging studies of children with autism spectrum disorders. As Research Director of the MIND Institute, he is currently coordinating a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism called the Autism Phenome Project to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism. This project will lead to more effective, hypothesis driven research on the causes of each type of autism and ultimately to more effective treatments. Dr. Amaral has also spearheaded efforts to establish animal models of autism and has been evaluating the potential immune basis of certain forms of autism.

Dr. Amaral has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 25 years and has received two prestigious MERIT awards from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Amaral has received research awards from the McKnight Foundation, the Sloan Foundation and more recently from the Macarthur and McDonnell Foundations. He has successfully launched a peer-reviewed journal, Hippocampus and has been Editor-in-Chief of the International Brain Research Organization’s journal, Neuroscience. He has co-edited an authoritative book on the hippocampal formation aptly called, The Hippocampus book.  He has recently been named a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator.

Beginning in 2009, Dr. Amaral was appointed to the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health. In May of 2009, he was elected President of the International Society of Autism Research that holds the annual International Meeting for Autism Research and publishes the journal Autism Research. In July 2009, he was awarded the title of University of California Distinguished Professor as acknowledgment of a meritorious academic and research career. In the fall of 2009, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He recently co-edited the book Autism Spectrum Disorders with Geri Dawson and Daniel Geschwind published by Oxford University Press that was published in May of 2011.


B.A., Psychology, Northwestern University, 1972
Ph.D., Neurobiology and Psychology, University of Rochester, 1977