News in Brief


Steven Siegelbaum signing the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Book of Members, a tradition that dates back to 1780

New IOM Members
Three P&S department chairs were named to the Institute of Medicine, one of the country’s highest honors in the fields of health and medicine: George Hripcsak, MD, the Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor of Biomedical Informatics and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics; Tom Maniatis, PhD, the Isidore S. Edelman Professor of Biochemistry and chair of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics; and Steven A. Siegelbaum, PhD, professor of neuroscience and of pharmacology, chair of the Department of Neuroscience, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Dr. Hripcsak is a national leader in the creation and use of electronic health records. In the early 90s, he led the effort to create the Arden Syntax, a language for representing health knowledge in computer systems that has become a national standard.

Dr. Maniatis is one of the founders of molecular cloning, and the methods he pioneered for understanding gene expression have had a profound impact on biology, from advancing basic knowledge to creating new therapies to treat human genetic diseases.

Dr. Siegelbaum is a neuroscientist whose research is at the forefront of understanding the role of neural circuitry in learning, behavior, and memory. The focus of his research is to uncover how information flows through the brain’s memory circuits and controls memory storage and recall.

American Academy of Arts & Sciences 
Steven A. Siegelbaum, PhD, professor of neuroscience and of pharmacology and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at P&S, was named a 2012 fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, an academy founded in 1780. The academy honors men and women of exceptional achievement from the fields of science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts.

Gifts Benefit Mind Brain Behavior Institute, ALS Research
Columbia’s interdisciplinary Mind Brain Behavior Institute, co-directed by three P&S faculty members, has been endowed by a $200 million pledge from Mortimer B. Zuckerman, publisher, editor, real estate investor, and philanthropist. The institute will be based in the 450,000-square-foot Jerome L. Greene Science Center, the centerpiece of the University’s new Manhattanville campus. The building is expected to open in 2015.

The Mind Brain Behavior Institute will be the hub of cross-campus research on brain science, bringing together researchers from the medical center with researchers from other Columbia schools, particularly arts and sciences and engineering and applied sciences. Faculty will collaborate on pioneering research in the neural sciences and a wide array of academic fields involving human behavior. 

The Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute will be directed by Thomas Jessell, PhD, the Claire Tow Professor of Motor Neuron Disorders in Neuroscience and professor of biochemistry & molecular biophysics, and Nobel laureates Richard Axel, MD, University Professor in Neuroscience, Pathology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, and Eric Kandel, MD, University Professor and Kavli Professor of Brain Science in Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, and Physiology & Cellular Biophysics.

A $25 million gift has launched Target ALS, a three-year initiative to streamline discovery of new approaches to treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The initiative was created through a gift from Daniel L. Doctoroff, Bloomberg LP CEO and president; David M. Rubenstein, co-CEO of the Carlyle Group; and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The gift is intended to provide an organizational framework to help the world’s leading ALS researchers share and coordinate research.

Columbia’s Christopher E. Henderson, PhD, is Target ALS scientific director and will manage the program with Manish Raisinghani, MD, PhD, executive director of Target ALS. Dr. Henderson is the Gurewitsch/Vidda Professor of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine and co-director of the Motor Neuron Center and the Project A.L.S./Jenifer Estess Laboratory for Stem Cell Research at Columbia.

Target ALS is the next phase of an accelerated research initiative launched in January 2010 by Project A.L.S., a New York-based foundation focused on finding and funding a cure for ALS, and the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins University. The latest collaboration pools the efforts of dozens of scientists and laboratories to focus on new targets for effective ALS therapies.

Exercising in Comfort
The first phase of a facelift for the Bard Athletic Center in Bard Hall was celebrated in January at an open house. Improvements in the athletic center include additional equipment, renovated squash courts, a new floor, and modifications to make the entire facility handicap-accessible. The Bard Athletic Center renovation project, which covers 5,000 square feet, added a new heating and air conditioning system, replaced two of the three squash courts, and added 20 new pieces of cardio equipment. The next phase of the project will replace windows, replace lights in the basketball court, and install a lift in the pool.