By Lynn Laurenti
Matt Gross is a key member of the FAU Brain Institute, facilitating work that takes place in the laboratory to gain greater understanding of the way the brain functions, disorders that can affect it and how those disorders might be addressed. Based on the Jupiter campus, the institute was founded in 2016 by Randy D. Blakely, Ph.D., an international leader in the field of neuroscience.
As the lab’s senior research associate, Gross supports a wide variety of activities designed to yield important new insights into major neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, mood and anxiety disorders, drug abuse and addiction.
Prior to coming to FAU, Gross earned a master’s degree in experimental psychology/behavioral neuroscience at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. His career goal is to contribute to the health of individuals, families and societies by investigating the brain at the molecular, cellular and behavioral levels.
Gross talks more about his research journey:
The pivotal moment in my life was when I realized some individuals could use drugs (i.e., nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, etc.) responsibly and recreationally, whereas others could not, leading them down the path to addiction. Three of my closest childhood friends had already been in rehab by college.
My grandmother’s motto was, “Practice random acts of kindness.” Although not directly impactful to my career in the sciences, it guided me down a path of helping others.
The ultimate goal would be to find a mechanism associated with addiction and/or the cravings that lead to relapse.
It is obvious FAU is investing so many of its resources into neuropsychiatric disorders, and I believe they truly care about advancing scientific knowledge. Furthermore, the local citizens show great interest in what we are doing. Science can be extremely frustrating. Knowing the local communities support your efforts can greatly benefit the psyche during difficult times.
Many undergrads and summer students come and go in the lab. The majority of them are great and demonstrate strong passion in the sciences.
Finding the right mentor or PI is the most important aspect of pursuing research; someone who encourages and respects you. Challenges and obstacles are abundant in science so someone who will support you and your work when experiments inevitably fail, is paramount.
To contribute enough research to positively impact individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders and those families and societies that are made complicated by such disorders.