Joseph Frascella '80
Neuroscientist Joseph Frascella ’80 developed his research vision and inspiration during his early days at Hamilton. In 2021, his extensive expertise led him to the latest stop on his professional journey. He is the new chief clinical research officer, a joint position between Florida State University and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. 

“My aim is to build integrated clinical and translational research to impact the health of our community,” he said. 

Frascella’s interest in understanding the brain was sparked while he was a psychobiology major on College Hill. “It was the perfect major as it combined my interest in understanding the relationship between the brain and behavior,” he said.

A fellowship to spend a year after graduation working on a project on the perception of the three-dimensional visual world cemented Frascella’s desire to better understand how the brain processes visual information. He earned his master’s degree and a doctorate at Brown University studying how light is converted in the brain to result in vision.

Frascella served on the faculty at Brown and extended his research to the interrelationship between the pharmacology and anatomy of the visual system. This work led him to a position in Bethesda, Md., as a research physiologist at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute and then to the National Institutes of Health where he held various positions of leadership and research administration overseeing large basic and clinical research programs at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

After spending most of his career at the NIH, Frascella moved to Portland, Ore., as vice president of research at the Legacy Research Institute. There, his program included the visual sciences, neurosciences, clinical trials, preclinical, population health, and cancer research.

And now it’s on to Tallahassee.

“I am not sure what will be next professionally,” Frascella said. “What is clear is that I am no longer interested in building a career; my main interests are in giving back what I have learned about brain science to help advance public health.”

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