Cheryl Mae Craft, Ph.D. is a tenured Professor of Ophthalmology and Cell and Neurobiology and served as the founding Chairman of the Department of Cell and Neurobiology (1994-2004) and was co-creator of the University of Southern California doctoral PIBBS graduate program. She was inaugural Co-Director of the Neurological Institute, an integral team leader in the creation of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, and is Director of the Postdoctoral Scholar Program at the University of Southern California. In 1994, Dr. Craft became the inaugural holder of the Mary D. Allen Endowed Chair for Vision Research at the Doheny Eye Institute. In this capacity, she was the Executive Scientific Director of the Mary D. Allen Laboratory for Vision Research (1994-2014).
Dr. Craft began research in high school as a NSF Research Scholar and graduated Valedictorian, received a B.S. with honors from Valdosta State University, and a secondary teaching certificate from Eastern Kentucky University. In 1984, she earned her doctorate in human anatomy and neuroscience from the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, the Biomedical Graduate School, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship to study molecular neurobiology and neurogenetics at the National Institutes of Health in the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology, National Eye Institute. Her previous academic faculty appointments were in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas where she was the founding Director of Molecular Neurogenetics for the Affective Disorders Center and the Dallas Veterans Affairs Schizophrenia Research Center.
For her scientific expertise and achievements, Dr. Craft has received academic awards, major research funding from both public and private foundations, and has appeared on national network television. She is an invited speaker at national and international scientific conferences and served on NIH-National Eye Institute study sections. In 2008, she received the Research to Prevent Blindness Senior Scientist Investigator award, and in 2009, she was honoree for the Founding Associates of the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation and the 43rd MUSES distinguished scientist and Woman of the Year. In 2012, Dr. Craft was the Keynote Speaker for the California State Science Fair. Currently, Dr. Craft is President of the Los Angeles Founding Chapter (established 1958)of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, Inc. (ARCS), a member of the international scientific and executive advisory boards for John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation, and a director of the MUSES Foundation supporting children’s education at the California Science Museum and the California State Science Fair.