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About CNLM

Through scientific discovery and targeted research, the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory (CNLM) drives the understanding of nutrition’s impact on brain cognition. The Center is the first interdisciplinary cognition and nutrition research center in the country. It is an innovative partnership between University of Illinois and Abbott Nutrition.

The CNLM partners with two world-renowned University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus research facilities, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology, in collaboration with the Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Neuroscience Program.

Leveraging these resources as well as global experts across a variety of scientific disciplines, the Center aims to push the field of traditional nutrition science research forward with leading-edge brain imaging and supercomputing technologies. The research at the CNLM is led by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty, in partnership with the leading scientists in cognition, brain function and supporting technologies from all over the world. The Center hosts an annual research competition to support pioneering, multi-disciplinary research, enabling teams of investigators to apply new technologies and thinking from across a wide range of disciplines to take nutrition and cognition research to a new level. The Center is governed by representatives from both Abbott and Illinois.

The Challenge

The research competition at the CNLM is an initiative designed to support pioneering research on nutritional compound utilization and mechanisms that enhance learning and memory throughout various stages in the lifespan. Researchers from the University of Illinois partner with the leading scientists in cognition, brain function and supporting technologies from around the world to submit proposals.

Made possible by a five-year investment from Abbott, research funding will be distributed on a competitive basis via the annual call for proposals, which occurs in the fall of every year. The emphasis for funding is on novel research that examines the ability of nutritional compounds to enhance learning and memory at different stages within the lifespan.


The Directors are responsible for the operations of the center and are made up of one representative each from both Abbott and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their key responsibilities include:

  • Planning, budgeting and oversight of research activities
  • Establishing and reviewing policies and practices
  • Soliciting, evaluating and approving project proposals
  • Approving and authorizing CNLM activities
  • Communications with and reporting to University of Illinois, Abbott, Executive and External Advisory committees and the public

Neal J. Cohen, Ph.D.

Keith Garleb, Ph.D.


Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is responsible for the operations of the Center and is made up of global representatives from Abbott and also those from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Center’s Directors also are members of this committee. Learn more.

External Advisory Board

The External Advisory Board members will provide advice and high-level vision to both the Center’s Directors and Executive Committee. These academic and scientific leaders will be announced at a later date, but will be external to both the University of Illinois and Abbott and will have expertise in a wide variety of areas related to the nutritional enhancement of learning and memory.