Brain Science Institute at Columbia University established by Kavli Foundation gift

March 10, 2004

The Kavli Foundation has announced a $7.5 million award to establish a Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) under the leadership of Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, M.D., University Professor of Psychiatry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biophysiology. To date, the foundation has established nine Kavli Institutes internationally in the areas of neuroscience, cosmology, and nanoscience.

The Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University will focus on the development of novel experimental and computational strategies for analyzing and deciphering how signaling in neural circuits controls behavior. According to Dr. Kandel, "Our work will be directed toward developing more powerful tools to enable us to move from the study of individual nerve cells to that of complex neural systems which underlie the higher mental function."

For decades, Columbia University has been a leader in advancing the neurosciences. Neural science at Columbia has succeeded in forging into one discipline the previously distinct fields of cell biology, physiology, and development of the nervous system with molecular biology, including molecular genetics. Recently, Columbia also successfully unified this cell and molecular approach to the brain with systems neural science and cognitive psychology.

"Many of us believe that studying neural circuits of interconnected cells, rather than one cell at a time, will reveal the secret of disordered brain function," states Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D., CUMC executive vice president and dean of the Faculty of Medicine. "The Kavli Institute will spearhead neuroscience as a priority in our strategic planning at Columbia University Medical Center."

The first director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia will be Dr. Kandel, who was co-recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Co-directors are Thomas Jessell, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, and Rafael Yuste, Ph.D., Columbia University associate professor of biological sciences.

The Kavli Institute at Columbia is one of nine institutes being established by the Kavli Foundation at leading universities worldwide. The other eight Kavli Institutes are located at Stanford (particle astrophysics & cosmology), University of California at San Diego (brain & mind), University of California at Santa Barbara (theoretical physics), Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (nanoscience), Yale (neuroscience), Cornell University (nanoscale science), California Institute of Technology (nanoscience), and University of Chicago (cosmological physics).
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Based in Oxnard, Calif., the Kavli Foundation was established in 2000 by its Norwegian-born founder and benefactor, Fred Kavli, to advance science for the benefit of humanity and to promote increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work. The foundation has selected three areas in which to focus its activities: cosmology, life sciences with emphasis on understanding the nature and evolution of life and the human being, and nanoscience with initial emphasis on bio-nanotechnology. In each case, the foundation's intent is to address the most fundamental unanswered scientific questions of our time. Participation in Kavli Foundation programs is by invitation only. The foundation does not award grants, nor does it respond to unsolicited proposals.

Located in New York City, Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic and clinical research, medical education, and health care. The medical center includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, and other health professionals from the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the School of Dental & Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University physicians and scientists achieved some of the 20th century's most significant medical breakthroughs, including the first blood test for cancer, the first medical use of the laser, and the first successful transfer of genes from one cell to another. This pioneering tradition continues today through 24 departments and several specialized research centers and institutes acclaimed for work in neuroscience and neurology, emerging infectious diseases, diabetes, community health, and many other areas of specialization.

Columbia University Medical Center

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