Tim Tully on Interaction Between Science and Politics
  Tim Tully     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Aug 2003

One last point about that—I have to say that in this spectrum from collecting the scientific facts and forming the scientific arguments to actually debating policy for society and politics, like the genetic basis of I.Q.—I actually have to say that it is my understanding of the biology that has shaped my politics, not the other way around. What I mean by that is that when you understand the sheer complexity of the genetic basis of brain function, and the sheer uniqueness of how each of our individual experiences shapes the genetic response in the brain to those experiences, what you realize as a biologist is that each of us are completely unique experiments when it comes to brain and behavior. We have unique environmental histories. We have unique genetic makeup. And therefore we are all unique experiments. And what that means, if you extrapolate that and translate that into politics is that if you are unique and if the way that you react and behave in the world is unique then you want to live in a society that maximizes individual freedom and liberty. You want to because that is the only way that you’re going to be presented with enough opportunity to fit your unique nature.

Tim Tully is a molecular geneticist, interested in finding the genetic and biological basis of memory in order to better identify pharmacological and behavioral treatments for memory loss. In 1981, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Tully joined the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory staff in 1991 to work on discovering genes involved with memory. He became the St. Giles Foundation Professor of Neuroscience and led the Drosophila learning and memory program. In 1998 he founded Helicon Therapeutics, Inc., a development-stage biotechnology firm that works on new therapies for memory loss and other cognition disorders. In June, 2007, Tully left Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to become Helicon's Acting Chief Scientific Officer, and assume a key role in the Michigan-based Dart Foundation as it expands its interest in funding neuroscience research.

His work on the transcriptional factor CREB gave way to the first experimental demonstration of enhanced memory formation in genetically engineered animals. Tully works to identify genes involved with long-term memory formation. Tully has determined that by the regulation of gene expression, new, long-term memories can be formed due to the growth of new synapses.