Research and Educational Initiatives

The Kavli Institute for Brain Science (KIBS) provides a number of ongoing initiatives geared to enhancing the teaching and understanding of neuroscience, and honoring leading researchers in the field.

Neuroscience Seminar Series

KIBS sponsors the Department of Neuroscience’s weekly seminar series, hosting scientists from across the world who are taking innovative approaches to answering questions about neural circuitry. In addition to presenting a public seminar, speakers meet individually with faculty and have lunch with graduate students, affording multiple opportunities for brainstorming and collaboration. Seminars are held every Thursday at Noon on the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus, in the Neurological Institute Auditorium.

View the Seminar Schedule

Neurolunch Seminar Series

KIBS, along with the NeuroTechnology Center, sponsors the Department of Biology’s weekly neuroscience seminar series. Presentations are held in a more informal setting, with lunch provided, to foster open discussion and debate. Neurolunch is held every Tuesday at 11:45 a.m., in the Fairchild Biology Building on the main campus.

Fred Kavli Lecture in Neural Plasticity

Visiting lectureship established in 2008 to bring distinguished scientists to our campus, where they can present their work and hold discussions with faculty and graduate students.

Past Recipients


Giacomo Rizolatti, University of Parma, Italy; “Mirror Neutron: Interpretations and Misinterpretations”


Seth Grant, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK; “Evolution and Organization of Synapse Complexity”


Roger Nicoll, University of California, San Francisco; “The Ins and Outs or Glutamate Receptor Trafficking”

Undergraduate Course in Neural Circuitry

This popular undergraduate science elective was developed by KIBS co-director Rafael Yuste; director Eric Kandel and co-director Thomas Jessell also contribute lectures. Students are encouraged to examine neuroscience in new ways and draw from the most current research. This course serves as an undergraduate capstone of the Neurobiology and Behavior major (course call number W4011, Neural Systems: Circuits in the Brain).

W. Alden Spencer Memorial Lecture and Award

KIBS partners with the Department of Neuroscience to present this award, established in 1978, which recognizes outstanding young investigators in neuroscience. The award moves from an annual to biennial basis after 2018, alternating with the Kandel Lecture.

Recent Recipients Include


Silvia Arber, University of Basel (“Circuit solutions for programming actions”); Botond Roska, University of Basel (“First steps in vision: Cell types, circuits, and repair”)


David Ginty, Harvard Medical School (“The functional organization of mammalian touch neurons”); Ardem Patapoutian, The Scripps Research Institute (“Ion channels that feel the force”)


Winrich Freiwald, Rockefeller University (“The dual face: Vision’s inroad into the social brain”); Doris Tsao, California Institute of Technology (“How the brain encodes faces”)


Loren Looger, HHMI Janelia Research Campus (“Watching Brains in Action); Atsushi Miyawaki, Riken Brain Science Institute (“Fluorescent Protein Technologies for Neurosciences”)


Eric Gouaux, Vollum Institute and Oregon Health and Science University ("The Life of a Memory: Associative Memory Formation and Consolidation")


Allison Doupe and Michael Brainard, UCSF (No Lecture)


Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University ("Optogenetics: Development and Application")


Larry Zipursky, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA (“Call Recognition and Wiring the Brain”); Mark Tessier-Lavigne, Genentech Inc. (“The Logic and Mechanisms of Axon Guidance, Regeneration, and Degeneration”)


Michael Shadlen, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle (“The Neurobiology of Decision Making: A Window on Cognition”)

Eric R. Kandel Lecture and Award

KIBS partners with the Department of Neuroscience to present this biennial award, established in 2019 through an endowment by Drs. Eric and Denise Kandel to recognize excellence in neuroscience.

Past Recipients


Kelsey Martin, University of California Los Angeles, “Regulating Gene Expression to Store Long Term Memories”