Dr. Gerald M. Edelman Nobel Prize-winning biologist Dr. Gerald M. Edelman has accepted an invitation from the School of Visual Arts to speak at the 2011 commencement exercises. The event will take place on Thursday, May 12, 2011, 10am and 2pm, at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City. The ceremony is a ticketed event and open to students and invited guests only. A live webcast will be streamed at www.sva.edu/commencement.

Dr. Edelman is director of The Neurosciences Institute and President of Neurosciences Research Foundation, a publicly supported not-for-profit organization that is the Institute’s parent. Separately, he is professor at The Scripps Research Institute and chairman of the Department of Neurobiology at that institution. His early studies focused on the structure, diversity, and function of antibodies. In 1972, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on antibodies, which transformed our understanding of the immune response. His subsequent work led to the discovery of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), which have been found to guide the fundamental processes by which an animal achieves its shape and form and by which nervous systems are built. To understand higher brain functions, Dr. Edelman and his colleagues designed and constructed a series of mobile devices with simulated brains. These brain-based devices (BBDs) were shown to be capable of learning, operant conditioning, and episodic memory. Dr. Edelman has also formulated a detailed theory to explain the development and organization of higher brain functions. This theory was presented in his volume Neural Darwinism (Basic Books, 1987). More recently, he described a theory of consciousness in his book Wider Than The Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness (Yale University Press, 2004). His latest book, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge (Yale University Press), appeared in October 2006.

Dr. Edelman will join a distinguished group of leaders in the arts, humanities and public service who have spoken at SVA’s commencement exercises in past years, including playwrights Edward Albee and Tony Kushner, historian