University Senate Proposed: September 22, 2006
Establish a Department of Neuroscience at
WHEREAS, the neurosciences have grown to achieve major importance in the scientific community and are consequently vital to the future of the sciences at
WHEREAS, Neuroscience faculty, researchers and students are currently widely disbursed among various departments and programs at the University, and
WHEREAS, the future of Columbia University’s neuroscience research and study will be focused at the new Jerome L. Greene Science Center at the Manhattanville campus, with an expanded body of faculty and students, permitting the growth of new programs and research initiatives, and
WHEREAS, the creation of a new Department of Neuroscience is crucial to the development of pre-clinical research and training, and
WHEREAS, the Education Committee of the University Senate has favorably reviewed the proposal to establish a Department of Neuroscience;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that a Department of Neuroscience be established at the Medical Center and that it be combined with the existing interdepartmental Doctoral Subcommittee on Neurobiology and Behavior, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Senate forward this resolution to the trustees for appropriate action.
Proposal for a New Department of Neuroscience
This is a proposal to replace the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior with the combination of a new, more focused Department of Neuroscience at the Health Sciences Campus and the existing interdepartmental, inter-campus Doctoral Subcommittee of Neurobiology and Behavior.
Neuroscience at Columbia is undergoing an exciting phase of expansion, both as a scientific discipline and as a field of study. There are ongoing faculty recruitments in neural circuitry, developmental neurobiology, motor neuron biology, and computational neuroscience. A new building dedicated to a broad vision of neuroscience is to be a focal point of the new Manhattanville Campus. The new Center for Neuroscience Initiatives (CNI) has been established to foster collaboration and communication across disciplines and to bring together basic scientists and clinical researchers, and physicians across all campuses and schools of the University. A university-wide interdisciplinary Mind, Brain and Behavior Program is planned to catalyze interactions between elements of neuroscience and other disciplines, including the social sciences and the humanities. The creation of a Department of Neuroscience is crucial to the future development of pre-clinical neuroscience research and teaching at Columbia.
Replacing the Center with a new Department of Neuroscience would have three major benefits. (1) It would make possible a focused, cutting edge approach to training and research in a fundamental area of modern basic neuroscience – the development, structure and function of neural circuits. (2) It would provide an efficient and cohesive platform for recruitment, development, and promotion of faculty. At present, each faculty member recruited to the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior receives his or her primary appointment in a department. This may lead to distortion of the missions of the departments involved and it complicates the processes of recruiting, mentoring and promoting junior faculty. (3) It would better reflect the reality of the current situation, in that: (a) the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior already has the responsibilities and scope of activities of a basic science department; and (b) neuroscience has become a recognized academic discipline.