Dr. Thomas Jessell is a developmental neurobiologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the latest recipient of the Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience, which includes a $100,000 award. In the Jessell Lab in the Hammer Health Sciences Building, researchers study the vertebrate central nervous system to understand how neurons become encoded at the embryonic level, particularly in the spinal cord. The Scolnick Prize singles out Jessell's work for identifying signaling molecules and transcriptional code that establish a linkage between functional circuitry and motor behavior. Also a member of Columbia's Motor Neuron Center, which is dedicated to the study of motor neuron diseases like ALS, Dr. Jessell is a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and part of the larger Columbia Neuroscience interdisciplinary research community. He will travel to Boston in April to accept the prize and deliver a lecture (see image at right). The Scolnick Prize is given out by the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. According to McGovern chairman Robert Desimone, from a recent CUMC press release:
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The Brain Activity Map project could be the next big federal life science research endeavor, with no less a goal than the mapping of the entire living brain and all its neuronal activity. Like the Human Genome Project of the 90's, the not insignificant financial outlay is being presented as an investment that will net even bigger returns, both in terms of new technology and a vastly increased understanding of the mind. President Obama is expected to include the multi-billion dollar, decade-long funding in his upcoming budget proposal, and neuroscience research was a topic he addressed specifically in his recent State of the Union address.
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Neurobiology research has a long and storied history at Columbia University and its Medical School in New York, dating back to the groundbreaking work of American neurologist Harry Grundfest 60 years ago. 30 years ago Columbia became one of the first universities to bring together diverse, cross-disciplinary researchers in neighboring labs to study behavior at the cellular, molecular, and systems level. By 2004, when Columbia celebrated its 250th anniversary, university president Lee Bollinger (right) announced the formation of a Mind Brain Behavior Initiative to more productively bring scientists into an even more integrated research effort across not only the two existing New York City campuses, but with an anchor (and crossroads) at the new CU Manhattanville campus then in the active planning stages.
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The Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC) headquartered at Manhattan's Weill Cornell Medical College has just received a $49.6M renewal of its 5-year grant by the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) in order to continue its work. Launched seven years ago, the the CTSC set out to realize the successful integration of inter-institutional resources among neighbors on York Avenue and the immediate area. The resulting cluster of New York's East Side institutions forms a unique and cohesive biomedical complex collectively dedicated to accelerating the clinical application of basic science discoveries.
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University expansion is never uncomplicated, especially in an urban environment where density is high, real estate is ultra-expensive, and development is intensely regulated. Yet new buildings do go up in places like New York City if you have the drive, wealth, and reputation of an institution like Columbia University, which is currently constructing not only new buildings but an entirely new campus to expand its academic and research programs. In addition to the original Morningside Heights location and the Medical School campus in Washington Heights, Columbia has purchased and is building a new campus in the "Manhattanville" neighborhood, stretching from 125th Street to 133rd Street in West Harlem.
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Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) became the first academic medical center in the world when it was established in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights in the 1920's. CUMC can also claim to have built New York City’s first university-related research park (in conjunction with the city and state)—housing the only biotechnology business incubator in the city: The Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park. The complex on CUMC's eastern border is currently made up of 3 research buildings, with sites and plans for 2 more. When completed, the park will contain over 600,000sf of research laboratory space and 1 million sf of overall usable space. Additionally, the biomedical science and technology park falls within the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, meaning special funding is available for businesses starting or relocating there.
New research from Columbia University’s Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain shows that silent strokes may be the cause of memory loss in aging people. Dr. Adam M. Brickman, Ph.D. and Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Neuropsychology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, told Neurology that what’s new about his research is that it “examines silent strokes and hippocampal shrinkage simultaneously.” In the past, experts believed memory loss in the elderly was a result of deterioration in the hippocampus. While there’s truth in this logic, Dr. Brickman says that silent strokes (strokes so small they may go unnoticed) also contribute to the problem of memory loss in older people.
As early as February of 2012, project organizers plan on opening the New York Genome Center, a new center for genomics and medicine, in Manhattan. NYGC’s collaborating members include a number of public and private contributors, among them 11 academic institutions, private philanthropists, technology collaborators, the New York City Economic Corporation and the New York City Investment Fund. In total, contributing members have donated $120 million to the project so far.
In the beginning of August, we published an article about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to encourage 27 interested universities to come up with innovative ideas for high-tech campuses and compete for space in one of three areas in New York City. While Manhattan local news website DNAinfo.com reports that at an unrelated press conference, Mayor Bloomberg said he is not rejecting the idea that more than one school may win the competition, he also said that up to $100 million in public funding for the project is on the line, so the city will probably work with just one school to begin with.
The Center of Bioengineering Innovation & Design at Johns Hopkins University has recently received the honor to boast the first place winner of the 2011 ASME IShow: a competition inspiring students to invest in their own innovation and entrepreneurialism to develop a sustainable business model of a medical, technological, or robotic nature.