Adele Diamond

Professor, UBC Department of Psychiatry, Division of Division of Neuroscience and Translational Psychiatry

Canada Research Chair, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Member, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health

Member, BC Children’s Research Institute

Member, Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP)

Member, Kids Brain Health Network (formerly known as NeuroDevNet)

Founding Fellow, Institute of Mental Health, UBC

Founding Member, UBC Educational Neuroscience and Healthy Child Development Cluster

Founding Member, UBC Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration in Autism (CIRCA)


Short Biography

Adele Diamond, PhD, FRSC is the Canada Research Chair Tier I Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, BC, Canada. A member of the Royal Society of Canada, she has been named one of the “2000 Outstanding Women of the 20th Century” and has been listed as one the 15 most influential neuroscientists alive today. She was educated at Swarthmore (BA, Phi Beta Kappa), Harvard (PhD), and Yale Medical School (postdoc).

Prof. Diamond is recognized as a world leader in the field of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience as evidenced by impact, awards, success in research funding, leadership roles, and abundant invitations to speak across disciplines, professions, and nations. Indeed, she helped found the field. She has held federal research grants continuously for over 30 years (since her first semester as a faculty member) and overseen over $24 million in research funding. She has given over 500 keynote addresses and invited talks, including at the White House as well as in 23 other countries across 5 continents. Her work has been cited over 42,000 times and has an h-index of 69. She heads the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Program at UBC, serves on 18 external advisory boards and 8 editorial boards, including those of all 3 major journals in Developmental Psychology.

Research Focus

Prof. Diamond’s specialty is executive functions, which depend on the brain’s prefrontal cortex and interrelated neural regions. Executive functions enable us to resist temptations and automatic impulsive reactions, stay focused, mentally play with ideas, reason, problem-solve, flexibly adjust to changed demands or priorities, and see things from new and different perspectives. Prof. Diamond’s lab studies how executive functions are affected by biological factors (such as genes and neurochemistry) and by environmental ones (for example, impaired by stress or improved by interventions).

She has demonstrated that executive functions emerge and can be assessed as early as the first year of life, and shown that interventions can improve executive functions even in very young children. Her work has demonstrated ways to help children grasp concepts and succeed at tasks long thought beyond their ability and has changed how people think about cognitive development in emphasizing the importance of inhibiting reactions that get in the way of demonstrating knowledge that is already present.

Her work on the unusual properties of the dopamine system in prefrontal cortex led to her identifying the biological mechanism causing EF deficits in children treated for phenylketonuria (PKU) and definitively documenting those deficits, resulting in the guidelines for the medical treatment of PKU changing around the globe. Here is an example of how changing behavior (diet) can affect neurochemistry and brain function. Global changes to clinical practice again followed 2 of her subsequent discoveries.

More recently, Prof. Diamond has derived new principles for how to improve EFs and debunked previously-accepted ones. She offers a markedly different perspective from traditional medical practice in hypothesizing that treating physical health, without also addressing social and emotional health is less efficient or efficacious. Prof. Diamond also offers a markedly different perspective from mainstream education in hypothesizing that focusing exclusively on training cognitive skills is less efficient, and ultimately less successful, than also addressing emotional, social, spiritual, and physical needs. Nowhere is the importance of social, emotional, and physical health for cognitive health more evident than with prefrontal cortex and executive functions. Many issues are not simply education issues or health issues. They are both.

Significant Accomplishment & Professional Contribution

2021 Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

2020 Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by Swarthmore College: the #1 ranked small college in the US (24 May) video:

Voted `Super Duper Neuroscientist of the Year’ by the students in Prof. Kathryn Murphy’s undergraduate neuroscience class at McMaster Univ., Hamilton, ON (08 Dec)

“Executive Functions,” published in the Annual Review of Psychology back in 2013 was among the 10 most downloaded papers in 2020 from all Annual Reviews across all disciplines.

2019 Outstanding Academic Performance (OAP) award by the Dean of Medicine.

The Bernice Grafstein Lecture in Neuroscience, McGill Univ., Montreal, QC

Diamond’s impact ranked as among the top 0.01% of all scientists across all scientific fields according to a new analysis. See: Ioannidis, J. P., Baas, J., Klavans, R., & Boyack, K. W. (2019). A standardized citation metrics author database annotated for scientific field. PLOS Biology, 17,1-6. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000384
One of our publications was selected as 1 of the 23 most noteworthy publications in Pediatric Exercise in 2018 and 1 of the 2 most important in Physical Activity & Cognition in 2018 []. The publication thus honored is: Diamond, A. & Ling, D. S. (2019). Aerobic-exercise and resistance-training interventions… published in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience []

The Bernice Grafstein Lecture in Neuroscience, McGill University, Montreal, QC.

2018 Outstanding Academic Performance Award from UBC Faculty of Medicine

First Annual North America Educateurs sans Frontières Lecture. Crossway Community, Washington, DC.

10th Annual Midsummer Public Lecture. Copenhagen, Denmark (sponsored by Elsass Institute & the University of Copenhagen).

2017 see Keynote Addresses.

2016 Received the International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES) Translation Award

This award recognizes senior scholars who’ve made significant progress towards strengthening links between research and practice translating research into practice in traditional or non-traditional contexts.
(This is the highest award that society gives.)

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Our article in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience was the 2nd top-rated paper in the journal

Centennial Niemeyer Lecture. Bank Street School for Children, NYC, NY

Lecture – Performance co-presented with the children of the California Dance Institute at Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

2015 Honorary degree (Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa) conferred by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. video (3 min):
video (1 hour 8 min):

Zlotowski Neuroscience Lecture, Ben Gurion Univ. of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel

2014 Recognized as one of the 15 most influential neuroscientists alive today (Sept.)
Only woman in the top 23.
One of only two Canadians in the top 30.

Received the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the American Psychological Association. (Aug.) The Bronfenbrenner Award is given to an individual whose work has, over a lifetime career, contributed not only to the science of developmental psychology, but who has also worked to apply developmental psychology to society.

Elected a Fellow of Division 1 (General Psychology) of the Am. Psychological Assoc. (APA)

2013 Gertrude Weigum Hinsz Lecture, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND

Visiting Professor. Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

2012 Pease Family Scholar Lecture, Dept. of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Zangwill Lecture in Experimental Psychology, Univ. of Cambridge, UK

Diamond’s article in Current Directions in Psych. Sci. appeared in Psychology Progress, which alerts the scientific community to breaking journal articles considered the best in psych.research (Dec. 9):

Profiled in a textbook titled Child Psychology, 3rd edition, by Alastair J. Younger, Ross Vasta, Scott A. Adler, Scott A. Miller, & Shari Ellis – in the ‘Canadian Contributions’ section – publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Public Address, sponsored by the Dalai Lama Centre, Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC
Worldwide Who’s Who: 2012- present

2011 Inaugural speaker in Visiting Distinguished Scholar Program, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute & School of Medicine, Roanoke, VA

Frijda Public Lecture, Cognitive Science Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Logan Lecture, Centennial Academy, Montreal, QC

Pickering Lecture, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON

Renewal – seven years – of Tier 1 Canada Research Chair

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

2010 Valedictory Address, “Conference on Science, Spirituality, and Education;” presided over by the Dalai Lama, to advise the Government of Sikkim in its endeavor to overhaul the provincial education system so that they educate not only the head but also the heart, Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Jane Holmes Bernstein Lecture in Developmental Neuropsychology, Children’s Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, MA

Robbie Case Memorial Lecture, University of Toronto’s Institute of Child Study, Toronto, ON

Featured at Annual UBC Gala, “Celebrate Research Week,” a short video vignette was created for this on Prof. Diamond and her research:

2009 Recipient, YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (recognized nationally as an important award for women)

Recipient, Inaugural Distinguished Achievement Award for Service to the University and Community, awarded by the Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC)

Elected a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (SEP), the oldest honorary society for psychology

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

One of three scientists invited to speak on stage with the Dalai Lama and another Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, on “Heart-Mind Education: Enhancing academic, social, and emotional competence” at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver; broadcast live worldwide by CTV as part of the Vancouver Peace Summit

One of a handful of scientists invited to meet with the Dalai Lama for a week at his official residence in Dharamsala, India

Featured Researcher at the Board of Governor’s Meeting, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Helen H. Molinari Memorial Lecture in Neuroscience, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY

John P. Zubek Memorial Lecture, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

2008 Named a William James Distinguished Lecturer by the Association for Psychological Science

RO Jones Memorial Speaker, Canadian Psychiatric Assoc. Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC

Birch Lecture, International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Annual meeting, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals, and in the 2008-2009 “Honors Edition”

2007 Opening of the Academic Year Address, Maastricht University, Netherlands

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Research Grant from the Institute of Education Sciences [IES] (term: 2007-2011)

2006 Elected a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS)

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Alberta Health FMR Visiting Scholar, Alberta Children’s Hospital, University of Alberta, & Hotckiss Brain Institute, Calgary, AB

Woman of Distinction Finalist, YWCA Vancouver, BC

2005 Elected to the Board of Governors of the International Neuropsychological Society (INS)

Recipient, Faculty Merit Award, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Brain Awareness Week Lecturer, McMaster University’s Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Dept. of Psychology, and Brain-Body Institute, Hamilton, ON

Henry Dunn Lecture, the Northwest Pacific Pediatric Neurology Society Annual Meeting

Our paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry was ranked #2 in the Hidden Jewels Top 10 in Neuroscience by the Faculty of 1000.

Hira Panikkar Memorial Lecture, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, BC Children’s Hospital

2004 Awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair

Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Award

Invited Workshop at joint Internat’l Neuropsych. Society/ASSBI conference, Brisbane, Australia

2003 Elected to the Executive Board of the Cognitive Development Society

Visiting Professor, University of California, San Francisco

2002 Invited Workshop on “The Neuropsychology of Treated PKU,” International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Annual Meeting, Toronto, ON

2000 21st Century Award for Achievement, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, UK, named one of the “2000 Outstanding Women of the 20th
Century,”one of the first so honored.

Zlotowski Neuroscience Lecture, Annual Retreat of the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben Gurion Univ.

Named one of the “2000 Outstanding Women of the 20th Century,” IBC, Cambridge, UK.

1999 see Keynote Addresses.

1998 see Keynote Addresses.

1997 Named a Distinguished Scientific Lecturer by the American Psychological Association:

Eastern Psychological Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC

Western Psychological Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA

Elected a Fellow of APA, Division 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology) “in recognition of outstanding & unusual contributions to the science and profession of psychology”

1996 see Keynote Addresses.

1995 Invited Instructor, Am. Academy of Neurology course on Behavioral Neurology, Seattle, WA.
Presented the Master Lecture on Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Indianapolis, IN.
“A Master Lecture is intended as a sort of tutorial in a particular field….The individuals invited to deliver these major addresses are people who are widely recognized as leaders in their fields….”

1994 Presented day-long workshop on “Child Neuropsychology: Cognitive Development & Disorders,” in Brisbane, at invitation of the Australian Psychological Society

Tjossem Memorial Lecture at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

McDonnell-Pew Visiting Fellow at the Salk Institute and UCSD, La Jolla, CA.

1993 Elected a Fellow of APA, Division 7 (Developmental Psychology) “in recognition of outstanding & unusual contributions to the science and profession of psychology”

1992 Harris Visiting Professor, Committee on Developmental Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

1991 Invited Instructor at the McDonnell Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience, Hanover, New Hampshire (topic: Attention)

Invited Instructor at the European Training Programme in Brain & Behavior Research, Zuoz, Switzerland (topic: Motor Development)

1990 Invited by NSF to help select the Presidential Young Investigator Award winners

Young Faculty Award of the Natural Science Association, University of Pennsylvania

1989 Convener, Conference on the Development and Neural Bases of Higher Cognitive Functions. Funded by McDonnell Foundation, NIMH (Neuroscience and
Behavioral Research Branches), EPA, & U. of P. New York Academy of Sciences, publisher.
Discussant, Minnesota Symposium in Child Psychology, Minneapolis, MN.

1988-1990 Lilly Foundation Faculty Teaching Fellow

1983-1986 NIMH Postdoctoral Fellowship #F32 MH09007

1983 NSF travel grant to attend a NATO Advanced Study Institute, Lyons, France

1982 Sloan Foundation postdoctoral fellowship award

1981 Radcliffe Grant for Graduate Women

1980 NSF Doctoral Dissertation Grant #BNS 8013-4471978

1977 NIMH Pre-doctoral Traineeship in Cross-Cultural Psychological Res. #MH14088-03

Graduate Student Research Award, Psychology Department

1975 NSF Graduate Fellowship

Danforth Graduate Fellowship

Phi Beta Kappa

Sigma Xi

Graduated with highest honor in Swarthmore College’s course program

Research Grant from the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission