Alice Luo Clayton joined the foundation in 2011. Her role involves managing programs related to neural circuits and behavior in animal models and human cohorts. She contributes to the development and availability of rodent models of autism, as well as overseeing preclinical projects. In addition, she developed and manages SFARI’s early career grant program, the Bridge to Independence Awards.
She earned her Ph.D. in systems neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, in the laboratory of Gary Aston-Jones, and did postdoctoral work at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program, with Roy Wise and Carl Lupica. Luo Clayton is broadly interested in brain connectivity and how information processing within neural networks translates into behavior. Her postdoctoral research focused on the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a major source of midbrain dopamine neurons, which modulates reward-associated behaviors and has been implicated in a number of psychiatric disorders, including drug addiction and schizophrenia; she identified and characterized afferent VTA circuits using primarily electrophysiological and neuroanatomical techniques.
Luo Clayton was a 2009–2011 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Division of Developmental Translational Research at the National Institute of Mental Health. The division focuses on understanding the mechanisms and developmental trajectories of child- and adolescent-onset psychiatric disorders, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mood and anxiety disorders. Her experience there involved managing grant portfolios, conducting workshops and site visits, organizing scientific review panels and developing research initiatives.