Kent State Names Michael N. Lehman, Ph.D., Inaugural Director of Brain Health Research Institute
Michael N. Lehman, Ph.D., a leader in the field of neuroendocrinology and circadian rhythms, is the newly appointed director of Kent State University’s Brain Health Research Institute.
In his new role, Dr. Lehman will bring together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines at Kent State and throughout Northeast Ohio whose work seeks to explore, expand and advance our knowledge of the human brain and how it functions.
“The brain really is the final frontier for medicine,” Dr. Lehman said, explaining his enthusiasm for taking the helm of the institute. “I am very excited and happy to be here to help contribute to the growth of neuroscience research and education at Kent State and its partners in a unique and dynamic way. We have a tremendous opportunity with the institute to lead new discoveries in our understanding of the brain, stemming from the wide diversity of research and scholarship on our own campus, and our linkages with regional partners in academic medicine to translate those discoveries into new treatments for brain and nervous system diseases.”
Dr. Lehman continued, “I am so impressed with the collegial spirit of Kent State neuroscientists, the potential for collaborations that cross traditional university boundaries and the strong support and commitment for neuroscience from senior leadership. My hope is the institute will be a nexus for collaboration in both neuroscience research and education, stimulating discoveries that will ultimately have a positive impact on the health of Northeast Ohio.”
Dr. Lehman most recently has served as a professor and chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, and as chairman of the board of the medical center’s Neuro Institute.
His hiring followed an exhaustive national search for the right candidate to lead the Brain Health Research Institute.
Accompanying Dr. Lehman to Kent State is his wife, Lique Coolen, Ph.D., an established neuroscience researcher who studies addiction and spinal cord injury, and who will assume the role of associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Lehman’s lab has been funded continually by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies for more than 30 years.
“We are extremely excited that the inaugural director of the Kent State Brain Health Research Institute is a world-class neuroscientist with a wealth of experience as both a researcher and a leader,” said Paul E. DiCorleto, Ph.D., vice president for research and sponsored programs.
“Dr. Lehman has a passion for assembling teams that employ multidisciplinary approaches to answering important questions in brain health,” Vice President DiCorleto said. “He will lead the effort to take our existing neuroscience research effort to the next level. We are fortunate to have attracted a director of Dr. Lehman’s caliber, and we look forward to his positive impact on Kent State University research.”
Kent State President Beverly J. Warren said the university “stands for fearless innovation without boundaries – and generous interdisciplinary collaboration. We have no more exciting expression of these ideals than the Brain Health Research Institute.
“The institute is poised to foster and deliver ongoing breakthroughs in 21st century public health. Because it applies a holistic strategy to advancing total brain wellness, the institute can literally change the way the world looks at brain health. The institute is deliberately designed to be different: to challenge conventional wisdom, to look at old problems in new ways. And it requires a different kind of leader – Dr. Lehman is that leader,” President Warren said.
Over the past few months, Dr. Lehman has worked diligently to assemble for the institute a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from an impressive list of medical research institutions in Northeast Ohio, including the Cleveland Clinic, Akron Children’s Hospital and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED).
“I’m delighted that Dr. Michael Lehman will be joining Kent State University to lead its Brain Health Research Institute,” said Jeff Wenstrup, Ph.D., associate dean of research at NEOMED’s College of Medicine, where he also serves as professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and director of the Hearing Research Group. “I have known Dr. Lehman for many years. He is an outstanding and productive neuroscience researcher, an accomplished leader and administrator, and is well-connected to the national community of neuroscience researchers and educators. I look forward to working with him to strengthen research in brain health both at Kent State University and throughout Northeast Ohio.”
Dr. Wenstrup will serve on the institute’s steering committee.
In conjunction with the expansion of the Brain Health Research Institute, Kent State's College of Arts and Sciences will now offer a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience beginning in Fall Semester 2019.
Part of Dr. Lehman’s charge at Kent State will be to unite a wide body of brain health research encompassing such topics as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases; brain injury and neurodegeneration; and brain control of emotion, memory and thought.
Dr. Lehman’s work at the University of Mississippi included the creation of the Neuro Institute, a university-wide neuroscience institute that integrated research, education and healthcare, based on a unique partnership of academic departments and hospitals. He had served as chair of its operating board.
Dr. Lehman received his bachelor’s degree in biology-psychology from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Michigan.
Prior to his work at the University of Mississippi, he was professor of molecular and integrative physiology and obstetrics and gynecology and co-director of the Reproductive Sciences Program at the University of Michigan. Before the University of Michigan, Dr. Lehman served as professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario. He began his career at the University of Cincinnati where he rose to the rank of professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, and was director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program and vice chair for research.
Dr. Lehman has been widely published in his specialty areas of neuroendocrinology and circadian rhythms, and is currently chair of the Integrative and Clinical Endocrinology and Reproduction Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review of the NIH. He is a senior editor for the Journal of Neuroendocrinology, and in 2017 was elected a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science for his contributions to the field of integrative neuroscience. He was the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.