Joe Tsien

Biotech Development; Research Administration; China Relations

Joe Tsien is an internationally recognized scientist, with extensive ties and advisory roles to the biomedical research and health care communities in China. He is globally recognized for his work in determining the brain drivers of memory and intelligence. He serves as director of the Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute and Professor of Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), August University, and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience. 

Tsien pioneered Cre-loxP-mediated brain subregion- and cell type-specific genetic techniques in 1996, enabling researchers to manipulate or introduce any gene in a specific brain region or a given type of neuron. This transformative technique has led to NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research in launching several Cre-driver Mouse Resource projects. Tsien is also widely known as the creator of transgenic ‘smart’ mouse Doogie which he created while on the faculty at Princeton University. In 2015, he developed the Theory of Connectivity to describe the origin of intelligence: A "Power-of-Two"-based mathematical principle that outlines the basic wiring and computational logic of the brain. Finally, Tsien has also developed several techniques that are capable of remote measurement of vital signs or abnormal psychological states, which can be useful for telemedicine.  

Joe earned his A.B. in Biology from East China Normal University in Shanghai and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Minnesota. He completed two postdoctoral fellowships with two Nobel laureates, Dr. Eric Kandel at Columbia University and Dr. Susumu Tonegawa at MIT.  In 1997 he became a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, and then joined Boston University as Director of the Center of Systems Neuroscience. Beginning in 2007, with his move to MCG, he has led a team of scientists to launch the Brain Decoding Project, a large-scale brain activity mapping effort to study how the mind is produced by the brain.