Department mourns emeriti Arnold Scheibel's passing

Arnold “Arne” Scheibel was born in New York City in 1923 where he lived for the first 24 years of his life. He did his undergraduate work at Columbia College and received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1946. Though initially interested in cardiology, Dr. Schiebel perceived an apparent pervasiveness of emotional factors in cardiac disease patterns. This led him to the field of psychiatry. After a year of psychiatric residency training at Washington University in St. Louis, he entered the Army as a medical officer and received further training while on active service at Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio.

Increasingly troubled by the lack of knowledge about brain substrates of psychiatric syndromology, Scheibel joined the neurophysiology laboratory of Warren McCulloch at Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute to learn something about brain structure and function. Here, for the first time, he read some of the work of Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramon y Cajal and discovered the structural beauty of the central nervous system as revealed by the silver chromate methods of Golgi. Today, more than half a century later, although largely superseded by more discriminative techniques, the Golgi still remains the “gold standard” against which all neurohistological techniques are measured.

After a short period as faculty member at the University of Tennessee and 15 months spent abroad (Universities of Pisa and Oslo) on a Guggenheim fellowship, Scheibel joined the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles as a member of the departments of anatomy and psychiatry (1955).

Intrigued by the emotional factors that play a role in diseases, Dr. Scheibel focused his research around his interests in both psychiatry and the neural foundations of behavior. Scheibel's research, stemming from his interests in both psychiatry and the neural underpinnings of behavior, has revolved about the structuro-functional basis of cognition and action. Using both neurohistological and neurophysiological techniques, his laboratory has studied the reticular core of the brain stem and thalamus, the organization of neural modules, structural correlates of aging and psychosis, and the relation between levels of cognitive activity and the patterns and richness of neuropil.

Scheibel had the privilege of serving as Acting Director (1987-1990) and Director (1990-1995) of the Brain Research Institute during a period of economic stress -- a period in which the continued existence of the institute itself was under question. Despite this, Scheibel's leadership kept the BRI alive, and led to innovative programs including a system of affinity groups -- working groups that meet regularly to discuss crosscutting topics. Since inception, these affinity groups have resulted in the submission and funding of several training program and program project grants, including the one that created the Alzheimer’s Disease Center. In turn, affinity groups have led to Integrative Centers of Neuroscience Excellence. These centers provide a more formal, cohesive identity and organizational structure that facilitates collaborations and interactions amongst a large community of researchers from disciplines across campus, including faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students..  

"Under Dr. Scheibel’s leadership, the BRI flourished and became more integrated into the UCLA community,” said Dr. Christopher J. Evans, director of the BRI. “His contributions included advancing the BRI’s mission to pursue collaborative breakthroughs in understanding the brain and to communicate the excitement of neuroscience to UCLA students and children at local schools.” In addition, during Dr. Scheibel’s time at the BRI, the annual H.W. Magoun Distinguished Lectureship, which recognizes a prominent UCLA neuroscientist, and the annual Samuel Eiduson Student Lectureship, which honors an outstanding neuroscience graduate student, were both initiated.

Scheibel also initiated the student-manned community outreach program, Project Brainstorm -- a program that allows UCLA students to teach neuroscience concepts to Los Angeles Unified School District classes, ages K-12.

In 1997, Dr. Scheibel was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Among other honors, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Last year, as memorial tributes to his parents, Scheibel established the Ethel Scheibel Endowed Chair in Neuroscience in the Department of Neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, and the William Scheibel Endowed Chair in Neuroscience at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute

You ca read about Arne, in his owe words here:


Feb 16, 2018

Researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have, for the first time, coaxed human stem cells to become sensory interneurons — the cells that give us our sense of touch. The new protocol could be a step toward stem cell–based therapies to restore sensation in paralyzed people who have lost feeling in parts of their body.

The study, which was led by Samantha Butler, a UCLA associate professor of neurobiology and member of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, was published today in the journal Stem Cell Reports.


Feb 16, 2018

UCLA Neurobiology will be hosting an afternoon memorial symposium for Earl Eldred on April 19, 2018 at the Faculty Center.

Feb 16, 2018

Jean de Vellis, passed away on Sunday after a brief illness. Jean started his career at UCLA in 1965 as an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and retired 50 years later, in 2015, as a Distinguished Professor. Notably, he directed the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at UCLA. As a joint faculty in Neurobiology, he was an active participant in the intellectual and educational life. His technical and scholarly contributions positively impacted our department and the broad neuroscience community. He was a pioneer in defining the molecular events...

Sep 19, 2017

A recent study led by Samantha Butler in the Department of Neurobiology at UCLA has overturned a common belief about how a certain class of proteins in the spinal cord regulate the formation of nervous system cells—called neurons—during embryonic development. These findings could one day inform the creation of stem cell-based therapies that restore the sense of touch in paralyzed patients.
The study was published in the journal eLife, which was founded in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Bone morphogenetic proteins—also known as BMPs—play a key role in human...

Aug 04, 2017

After a lengthy illness, our colleague and friend, John Lu passed away at the UCLA Ronald Regan Medical Center. John had a long career at UCLA and had a joint appointment in the Departments of Neurobiology and Obstetrics & Gynecology. He was a reproductive neuroendocrinologist and was a founding member of the Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology along with Charles “Tom” Sawyer, Roger Gorski, Arthur Arnold and Anna Taylor. John received his PhD from Michigan State University, and after a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburg, he came west, first to UC San Diego and then...

May 15, 2017

11th Annual Dynamics of Neural Microcircuits Symposium

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

9 am - 5 pm, NRB Auditorium

Apr 25, 2017

Meera Pratap, Ph.D., Researcher in Neurobiology publishes NATURE article on, “Antisense oligonucleotide therapy for spinocerebellar ataxia type 2.” Nature, April 20, 2017,

Apr 19, 2017

New research by scientists at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA overturns a long-standing paradigm about how axons — thread-like projections that connect cells in the nervous system — grow during embryonic development. The findings of the study, led by Samantha Butler, Associate Professor of Neurobiology, could help scientists replicate or control the way axons grow, which may be applicable for diseases that affect the nervous system, such as diabetes, as well as injuries that sever nerves...