Honorary Degree Citation
Fred H. Gage. Groundbreaking neuroscientist, professor in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute, member of the National Academy of Sciences, Colby father. The 1990s were heralded as the “decade of the brain,” and one of the most exciting and revolutionary findings of the era was your discovery that the adult human brain is capable of producing new nerve cells. Your discovery overturned the dogma that our brains are not capable of self-repair, and you have thus expanded the frontiers of brain research. Your work has important implications for the study and treatment of spinal injury, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Your research also involves the highly promising yet controversial study of stem cells and gene therapy. One of your most fascinating findings is your discovery that our own behaviors, environments, and activities have a profound effect on the brain’s regenerative capacity. Your ability to seek and recognize novelty and to challenge the expected has made you one of the most important scientists of our time. In recognition of your work, you received the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievements in Health and Education in 1993, the Christopher Reeve Research Medal in 1997, and the Max Planck Research Prize in 1999. In 2001 you served as president of the Society for Neuroscience, the world’s largest organization dedicated to the study of the brain and nervous system. Then, in 2003, you were elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Your work shows the beauty and creativity of the scientific process; moreover, as a Colby parent, you have given generously of your time and energy to our students, generating among them this same excitement for scientific discovery.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Fred H. Gage, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.
Conferred May 22, 2005
Fred H. Gage is a professor in the Salk Institute’s Laboratory of Genetics. He concentrates on the adult central nervous system and the unexpected plasticity and adaptability that remain throughout the life of all mammals. His work may lead to methods of replacing brain tissue lost to stroke or Alzheimer’s disease and to repairing spinal cords damaged by trauma. Among the leading neuroscientists in the world, Gage earned his B.S. from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University. He is the recipient of the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievements in Health and Education, the Christopher Reeve Research Medal, and the Max Planck Research Prize. He is past president of the Society for Neuroscience and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His daughter Francesca is a member of the Class of 2005.