Frank M. LaFerla is the dean of the new Hana and Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences at UC Irvine. LaFerla joined UC Irvine in 1995 as an assistant professor. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / January 13, 2014)

A chancellor's professor of neurobiology at UC Irvine has been appointed dean of the new Hana and Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences.

Frank LaFerla, an expert on Alzheimer's disease who has been with UCI since 1995, started his new role Jan. 1. He called the appointment a "great honor."

Before being named dean, LaFerla had been the head of UCI's neurobiology and behavior department and chairman of its Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.

As dean, LaFerla hopes to "enhance the teaching experience" for undergraduate students and "promote the research mission" of the School of Biological Sciences and UCI. He wants to promote research into cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and other areas, he said.

"We really want to increase the outreach to the local community," LaFerla said. "We want to make sure we engage the citizens of Orange County."

LaFerla will continue to conduct his own research, which focuses on Alzheimer's, a disease that affects 90,000 people in Orange County, he said.

The School of Biological Sciences houses four departments: developmental and cell biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, and neurobiology and behavior.

— Beau Nicolette

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