David G. Amaral joined the University of California, Davis in 1995 as a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the Center for Neuroscience. He is a staff scientist in the Brain, Mind and Behavior Unit at the California National Primate Research Center. Amaral was named the Beneto Foundation Chair and research director of the MIND Institute in 1998. He received a joint Ph.D. in psychology and neurobiology from the University of Rochester.
Amaral’s research focuses on the neurobiology of social behavior and the development and neuroanatomical organization and plasticity of the primate and human amygdala and hippocampal formation. Increasingly, his research has been dedicated to understanding the biological basis of autism. As research director of the MIND Institute, Amaral coordinates a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism, called the Autism Phenome Project, to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism.
Most recently, Amaral became director of Autism BrainNet, a collaborative effort sponsored by the Simons Foundation and Autism Speaks, to solicit postmortem brain tissue to facilitate autism research.