As Gladstone’s President, Dr. Mahley oversaw the organization’s establishment and growth to include three institutes. In 2006, he developed the Gladstone Center for Translational Research to facilitate the movement of some aspects of Gladstone’s basic research into developmental targets. In 2010, after 30 years as president, he stepped down to more actively pursue his research.

Research Interests

Dr. Mahley is an internationally known expert on heart disease, cholesterol metabolism and, more recently, Alzheimer’s disease. He studies plasma lipoproteins and particularly apolipoprotein E (apoE), the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. His seminal research has defined apoE’s critical role in cholesterol homeostasis and atherosclerosis. He has also made fundamental contributions to understanding the role of apoE in the nervous system, specifically in nerve injury and regeneration and in the remodeling of neurites on neuronal cells. These findings laid the groundwork for the explosion of research linking apoE4—a variant of apoE—to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s and neurodegeneration.


In 1971, Dr. Mahley joined the staff of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health, and in 1975 became head of the Comparative Atherosclerosis and Arterial Metabolism Section in NHLBI’s Laboratory of Experimental Atherosclerosis. Four years later, he was recruited to create the Gladstone Institutes. Dr. Mahley is a member of many scientific and professional societies, including the American Heart Association, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Neuroscience. In addition, he serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. Dr. Mahley is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He recently received the Builders of Science Award from Research!America for his leadership as Gladstone’s founding director and president, guiding its growth to become one of the world’s foremost independent research institutes.


After earning a bachelor’s degree from Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee, in 1963, Dr. Mahley completed both an MD and a PhD at Vanderbilt University in 1970. The following year he did a pathology internship at Vanderbilt.

Why Gladstone

I was asked by the Gladstone trustees to establish the Gladstone Institutes in 1979, as a basic science institute with a focus on human disease and committed to training the next generation of scientists.