Columbia University announces the appointment of new leaders of its Kavli Institute for Brain Science

The Institute was established in 2004 through the vision of University Professor and Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel and a partnership with The Kavli Foundation

June 1, 2021

Columbia University has named Daphna Shohamy and Larry Abbott to lead its Kavli Institute for Brain Science. Daphna Shohamy has also been appointed to the Kavli Professorship of Brain Science, an endowed professorship reserved especially for a director of Columbia’s Kavli Institute. Since its creation in 2004, the Kavli Institute has focused on the development of novel experimental and computational strategies for analyzing how signaling in neural circuits controls cognitive function and behavior. With 37 members in a wide variety of disciplines, the Kavli Institute works across approaches, from theoretical to computational and from cognitive to psychological.

“Columbia’s Kavli Institute for Brain Science will benefit from the formidable research and administrative talents of these new leaders, each of whom possesses a remarkable ability to join theoretical and experimental neuroscience,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “I look forward to this next chapter for the Kavli Institute whose future success will build on the foundation established by Eric Kandel and Rafael Yuste.”

The Institute is a longstanding partnership between the University and The Kavli Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity.

“We are excited about the new leadership guiding the Kavli Institute at Columbia in its second decade,” said Cynthia M. Friend, President of The Kavli Foundation. “They will advance our shared mission of furthering fundamental scientific discovery in neuroscience, and by blending theory with experimentation they embody the vision of an interdisciplinary institute that will catalyze breakthrough discoveries.”

Side by side images of Daphna Shohamy and Larry Abbott
Daphna Shohamy (left) and Larry Abbott (right)

Daphna Shohamy, the Kavli Professor of Brain Science and a longstanding member of the Department of Psychology at Columbia, is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Using a highly integrative approach, Shohamy’s lab focuses on the process of learning, as well as the neurobiological and cognitive mechanisms of memory and decision making.

Larry Abbott is the William Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience and Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics. A pioneer in the field and leader of Columbia’s Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, Abbott focuses on the computational modeling and mathematical analysis of neurons and neural networks. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with experimentalists, and he brings those partnerships to bridge approaches and disciplines to Columbia’s Kavli Institute.

“Together with Larry, I am excited to continue the vision of the Kavli Institute in bringing together some of the most promising approaches in neuroscience to arrive at insights that reveal fundamental truths about who we are as a species and as individuals,” said Shohamy.