Floyd Bloom: Building a bridge to the future  pg. 7

Bloom moved his labs to The Scripps Research Institute in 1983, where he chaired the Department of Neuropharmacology for 14 years before retiring in 2005.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He served on the Science Advisory Board of the MacArthur Foundation and has received an abundance of awards, including the Janssen Award in the Basic Sciences and the Pasarow Award in Neuropsychiatry.

George Siggins (left) and George Koob (right) share memories of their long-time collaboration with Floyd Bloom at the Scripps Research Institute.
“Floyd has an ability to bridge different disciplines in neuroscience,” Corey-Bloom says, citing as an example the large center grant he was awarded to attack the problem of AIDS-associated dementia. “Only someone like my husband could have brought it all together, because he saw the pathology, the pharmacology, the chemistry and the neurochemistry. There are few sub-fields in neuroscience that he hasn’t touched in some way.”

The mapping of the human genome has led to some of the most exciting possibilities for neuroscience, Bloom says. The next great challenge is to understand how modest mutations in several different genes can make a person vulnerable – but not necessarily certain – to develop a psychiatric disease.

“It’s an inheritability to vulnerability,” Bloom explains. “You can have two identical twins with exactly the same genomes, experiencing the same life.

One of them gets schizophrenia and one of them doesn’t. One of them gets depression and one of them doesn’t. One of them becomes an alcoholic and one of them doesn’t.

“Whatever the history of your life is, you have the same genes you start with, but you’re following slightly different trajectories. So, where is it that the brain fails to adapt to those demands of the environment? And what is it about the twin who didn’t get the disease that I can draw from?”

In the 1990s, Bloom began assuming editorial positions at some of the most esteemed scientific journals, most notably, as editor-in-chief of Science from 1995-2000. During that period he made some radical changes, such as moving Science—which is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science—onto the Internet, greatly expanding its reach.

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