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Roland A. Giolli
In Memoriam

Roland A. Giolli

Professor Emeritus of Anatomy and Neurobiology

UC Irvine

Roland was born in San Vito, Italy, in 1934. His family emigrated to the United States in the late 1930’s, to avoid the emerging political developments in Italy. After residing in the Chicago area for several years, the family moved to northern California where Roland completed his secondary education. Roland had a long association with the University of California, earning his baccalaureate degree from UC Davis in 1956 and the PhD in Anatomy from UC Berkeley in 1960. He gained postdoctoral research experience at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry followed by the UCLA Brain Research Institute and Department of Anatomy.

The (then) California College of Medicine offered Professor Giolli his first academic position as assistant professor of anatomy in 1964. When the College was acquired by the newly formed University of California, Irvine, Professor Giolli joined selected other faculty members in relocating to Irvine, where he rose through the ranks to become professor and stayed until the time of his retirement in 2008. At 44 years, Professor Giolli was one of UCI’s longest affiliated professors.

Roland was an accomplished neurobiologist. His internationally recognized research work focused on the anatomical circuitry of the accessory optic system of the mammalian brain, neural circuits that control volitional and reflexive eye movements. He published his scientific work in leading neuroanatomical journals. Through his career, Roland’s work was supported by multiple grant funds from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, along with grants from private foundations. In 1982, he was awarded the prestigious von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award to study at the Max-Planck Institute in Munich, Germany.

In addition to his research, Professor Giolli’s teaching duties were extensive.  At varied times, he taught each of the anatomy courses in the medical curriculum (Histology, Human Neuroscience, and Gross Anatomy), along with seminars in the graduate curriculum. He was noted for the colorful and meticulous drawings he used to illustrate his lectures in Human Neuroscience as well as his detailed anatomical expertise. He was the recipient of multiple teaching awards including the Silver Beaker and the Kaiser-Permanente Awards for outstanding teaching to medical students, and he received multiple awards of appreciation from the UCI Chicano Medical Students Association.

Friends, colleagues and students will remember Professor Giolli for his warm sense of humor, always showing up for work in his white shirt and tie, his talent as a pianist, and his sometimes frustrating desire to pack his lectures and reviews with an abundance of information.

Surviving Dr. Giolli are his wife, Pastora (Pas), his two daughters Andrea and Karen, his son Mark, and their mother, Thelma, and approximately 4,000 medical students who received training in anatomy from Professor Roland Giolli.

Professor Giolli lived well and will be missed.

Richard T. Robertson, Professor Emeritus
Anatomy and Neurobiology, UC Irvine