Dr. D. Stephen “Steve” Snyder, deputy director of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience, is retiring after 23 years at the NIH. Dr. Snyder played an instrumental role in building NIA’s extramural research program with a focus on fundamental neuroscience related to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. His research interests were wide-ranging, from the cell biological aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, to neuronal and vascular stress, to aspects of prion biology that could have implications for the development of Alzheimer's disease.
The NIA will miss Steve’s creativity and dedication to neuroscience research. “A member of the Division of Neuroscience for more than 20 years, Steve has played a critical role in the development and growth of the Alzheimer’s program,” said Dr. Neil Buckholtz, division director. “His insights into the basic science of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases have made a tremendous contribution to our efforts to understand and treat this devastating disease.”
A native of Baltimore, Dr. Snyder credits the people he met during his early research and work experiences with motivating him to pursue a career in neuroscience.
“I discovered that the people I admired were the neuroscientists, that they simply had the most interesting research questions,” Dr. Snyder said. “Neuroscience is a demanding field and can be a struggle for those just starting out, but it seemed to offer a fine area in which to invest a career. I haven’t changed my opinion on that.”
Dr. Snyder received his B.S. in biology from Loyola College, his M.S. in cell biology from Adelphi University, and his Ph.D. in pathology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurology at the University of Tennessee Medical School. He held concurrent positions at the University of Tennessee Medical School and the VA Medical Center in Memphis from 1984 until his move to NIA in 1990.
“Neuroscience was a field just getting on its feet at that time. I was elated to come to work at the headquarters of NIA,” Dr. Snyder said. “During those years, we were in the very happy position of growing the program and my particular focus was on the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease.”
While budget constraints are now making for a more demanding research environment, Dr. Snyder said he continues to be optimistic about the future of Alzheimer’s research.
“While dollars are in short supply, there is no lack of inventiveness,” he said. “Somewhere out there is a 25-year-old working on the next big thing, and in a few years, it will start off a wave of experimentation and advances in our search for therapies to treat dementia.”
Dr. Snyder is also optimistic about his upcoming move to Baton Rouge, LA with his wife Elaine. While the primary draw is proximity to his young grandchildren, art classes and opportunities for mentoring and advising young scientists are also in his future.