Adele Diamond is the Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. A member of the Royal Society of Canada, she has been named one of the “2000 Outstanding Women of the 20th Century,” was recently listed as one of the 15 most influential neuroscientists alive today, and her impact was recently ranked among the top 0.01% of all scientists across all fields.
Her work has consistently been marked by innovation and crossing disciplinary boundaries. Her discoveries have thrice changed international medical guidelines for treatment of diseases and have had a significant impact on educational practice worldwide, improving millions of children’s lives. Dr. Diamond has often broken new ground (e.g., helping to start a new field [developmental cognitive neuroscience], demonstrating one of the first links between cognitive development and brain function, changing the way people think about cognitive development [raising awareness of the role of inhibition], identifying the biological mechanism causing executive function deficits in children treated for PKU, providing the first demonstration of a visual deficit in children treated for PKU, and changing the way people think about stress).
Her specialty is “executive functions”, which depend on the brain’s prefrontal cortex and interrelated neural regions. Dr. Diamond studies how “executive functions” (e.g., self-control, problem-solving, mentally playing with ideas, flexibly adjust to change, thinking outside the box) are affected by biological factors (such as genes and neurochemistry) and by environmental ones (e.g., impaired by stress or improved by interventions). She offers a markedly different perspective from traditional medical practice in hypothesizing that treating physical health, without also addressing social and emotional health is less efficient or effective. Dr. Diamond also offers a markedly different perspective from mainstream education in hypothesizing that focusing exclusively on training cognitive skills is less efficient, and ultimately less successful, than also addressing emotional, social, spiritual, and physical needs.
Dr. Diamond has given roughly 600 invited addresses, including at the White House, in over 40 countries across six continents. She has held NIH R01 research grants continuously for over 30 years and overseen over $24 million in research funding. She was educated at Swarthmore (where she received her BA, Phi Beta Kappa), Harvard (where she received her PhD), and Yale Medical School (where she was a postdoctoral fellow).