Lisa Genova is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Love Anthony, Left Neglected, and Still Alice. Her first novel, Still Alice, has been adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart. Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She travels worldwide speaking about Alzheimer’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, and autism. She has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, The Diane Rehm Show, CNN, Chronicle, Fox News, and Canada AM and is featured in the Emmy Award–winning documentary film To Not Fade Away. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.
I wrote STILL ALICE because I am a granddaughter and a neuroscientist.
Looking back, my eighty-five-year-old, widowed grandmother had been showing signs of dementia for years. But she was a smart and independent woman who never complained, and she navigated around her symptoms with great skill for some time. And her nine children, their spouses, and her grandchildren were all content to look the other way or to pass off her cognitive mistakes to normal aging.
How did I get here? So many of my roads have led me here, it must be inevitable. Let me start at the beginning. Inspired by the stories of Oliver Sacks and a curiosity for understanding how the brain works to affect behavior and reveal who we are, I entered the graduate program in Neuroscience at Harvard in 1994. I quickly became interested in the mechanisms underlying addiction, how the same drug administered chronically could hijack our natural reinforcement systems and dissociate wanting from liking. My lab bench was just down the hall from Rudy Tanzi and others who were working to crack the genetic code for Alzheimer’s. I graduated with a...