Columbia University has founded a center dedicated to investigating one of the great scientific puzzles of the 21st century: the link between the molecular workings of brain cells and human cognition.
The David Mahoney Center for Brain and Behavior Research will bridge molecular neuroscience with cognitive systems that underlie complex human behavior. Housed on the fifth floor of the New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Annex on West 168th Street, the programs will include a postdoctoral training program as well as a professorship in brain and behavior research. .
The Center, named in recognition of David Mahoney’s outstanding national and international contribution to brain science, could not come at a better time for Columbia,. says Howard Hughes Senior Investigator and University Professor Eric Kandel, M.D., who helped found the Mahoney Center. . Historically, Columbia has been very strong in molecular neurobiology, neuronal signaling, synaptic transmission, plasticity, development, perception, and learning, but we have not been as strong in the biology of complex brain systems.
The goal of the Mahoney center, according to Dr. Kandel, will be to . bridge molecules to mind.. The Center will connect basic neuroscience studies now going on at Columbia to research in human cognition by focusing on the study of working memory and the planning of actions. The scientists will forge links between ongoing genetic molecular-based studies in flies, mice, and worms and brain imaging studies in healthy humans and patients with cognitive disorders by conducting research in non-human primates. Ultimately, with studies at the center, we would hope to uncover mechanisms underlying human disease and cognitive disorders including schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, age-related memory loss, and attention disorders of childhood.
David Mahoney, a leading advocate of brain research, began his career in public relations and went on to lead several companies including Norton Simon, Colgate Palmolive, and Canada Dry. He is now chairman and chief executive officer of the Charles A. Dana Foundation, the Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain. Mr. Mahoney is a major supporter of research in neuroscience and has helped to increase public interest and understanding of the field. He established and endowed the David Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania and established the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute at Harvard University.
“A decade ago we could not even begin to fathom the relationship between brain and behavior,” says Mr. Mahoney. Now, thanks to the major advances in brain research that have been made over the last decade, what was once unthinkable is rooted in the realm of possibility. I am deeply honored to be associated with Columbia University and Dr. Kandel as they tackle this next great challenge.