Dr. Phelps earned a Ph.D. in Neuroanatomy in 1967 from the University of Michigan. After postdoctoral research training at University College, London, England, he was a faculty member at the University of Connecticut Health Center and then Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio. In both positions he conducted basic research on brain ultrastructure and directed integrated neuroscience teaching programs.
In 1985, Dr. Phelps joined the staff of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, as Executive Secretary to the Aging Review Committee, for which he coordinated the review of research grant applications related to the neurobiology of aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD). In 1987, he transferred to the Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging Program at the NIA, where he was Program Director in charge of neurobiology and neuroplasticity. Dr. Phelps moved to the national office of the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago in 1989 as Vice President for Medical and Scientific Affairs and became Senior Vice President in 1991. In that position, he directed the research grant program, supervised the development of the Benjamin Green-field National Alzheimer’s Library, served as a spokesperson for AD research, and helped to set the scientific policies of the Association.
In 1992, Dr. Phelps returned to the National Institute on Aging where, as Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Centers Program in the Division of Neuroscience, he develops policy, oversees funding, and monitors the progress of a national network of Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers at 29 major U.S. universities and research institutes. He is also the Program Officer for the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center in Seattle and the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s disease in Indianapolis. In recent years, he has helped coordinate the development of major initiatives related to the genetics and genomics of late-onset AD, dedicated to identifying risk-factor genes for AD. In addition, he works closely with the Alzheimer’s Association and advises other national organizations dedicated to research and caregiving for AD, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Neurobiology of Aging and is currently on the Executive Council for Leaders Engaged in Alzheimer’s Disease, a megacommunity effort to develop new national strategies to address the impact of AD on society.Portfolio:
genetics and genomics of late-onset Alzheimer's disease