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Molly Wagster
Title: Chief, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch
Office(s): Division of Neuroscience (DN)
Phone Number: 301-496-9350
Email Address:


Dr. Wagster oversees administration and development of research in cognitive and emotional change with age and in sensory and motor disorders of aging. She directly manages a portfolio of research in mechanisms of cognitive (memory, learning, attention, language) and affective (emotion) change with age that spans research from molecules to behavior. She serves as the NIH Project Officer for the development of the NIH Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function (contract supported by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research) and directs the trans-NIH Cognitive and Emotional Health Project.

Dr. Wagster came to the NIA from the Department of Pathology, Division of Neuropathology, at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For more than a decade, Dr. Wagster investigated neural mechanisms of learning and memory changes with age in animal models and studied changes in neuroreceptor mechanisms in relation to cognitive decline in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Her research interests centered on individual differences with age in cognitive domains. Dr. Wagster held a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology at The Johns Hopkins University, where she taught both Psychopharmacology and the Biological Basis of Learning and Memory and was a lecturer in the team-taught course Psychology of Aging.

Dr. Wagster received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Experimental Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience) from Tulane University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Neuropathology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Research Interests/Portfolio

  • cognitive and emotional change with age
  • sensory and motor disorders of aging

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