Columbia to Launch New Neuroscience Center in New York City with the Largest Gift in University History


March 20, 2006 — Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger today announced plans to establish The Jerome L. Greene Science Center, a new research and teaching facility that will serve as the intellectual home for Columbia's expanding initiative in Mind, Brain, and Behavior. The Center is made possible by a gift from Dawn M. Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation to honor her late husband, Jerome L. Greene ('26CC, '28LAW), a prominent New York lawyer, real estate investor, and philanthropist. Currently valued at more than $200 million, the gift is the largest ever received by Columbia University. It is also the largest private gift received by any US university for the creation of a single facility. The Center will be led by renowned neurobiologist Dr. Thomas Jessell, and Nobel laureates Dr. Richard Axel and Dr. Eric Kandel.

President Bollinger made the announcement at a special event at Columbia attended by Dawn M. Greene, Columbia President Emeritus Michael Sovern, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and members of the Columbia community, and in a letter sent to the entire Columbia University community.

"It is with a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation that Columbia University accepts this most generous, and generative, gift from Dawn Greene and the Foundation in honor of Jerry," said President Bollinger. "The Jerome L. Greene Science Center, on our proposed Manhattanville campus, will forever symbolize our ongoing effort to understand the human organism. It will also, in very practical ways, lead to cures for diseases and a deeper grasp of our behavior as individuals and societies. In so doing, The Jerome L. Greene Science Center will carry on the legacy of a great Columbian."

The Center will include laboratories in which Columbia scientists will explore the causal relationship between gene function, brain wiring, and behavior. This research will have implications for the treatment of brain illness—probing the root causes of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and motor neuron diseases, among others. This research also will assist in decoding disorders of mood and motivation, cognition and behavior, such as autism, dementia, and schizophrenia. The Center will establish an educational outreach facility and clinical programs with a focus on childhood developmental disorders and diseases of the aging brain. Through exploration of the brain's organization and function, the Center will aim to clarify the workings of the mind—the mental processes that permit us to perceive, act, learn, and remember, and that govern the individuality of human action.

"I know that Jerry would be as excited as the Foundation and I to be making this gift. He believed in education, especially a Columbia education, and he believed in New York and its future," said Dawn Greene, President and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation. "Columbia's plans for development north of the Morningside campus reflect Jerry's devotion to continually improving our city, and to expanding educational and research opportunities through the institutions he cared most about. The creation of a building for the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative struck me as the perfect coming together of all of his interests. I am thrilled that we are able to do this."

"The Greenes' tremendous support of Columbia and other prominent New York institutions has greatly benefited our education, culture, and healthcare," said Congressman Charles B. Rangel. "The Jerome L. Greene Science Center will expand Columbia's capacity for innovation and will carry New York into a new age of discovery and leadership in science and medicine. The Center promises to achieve breakthroughs that will benefit the City, the nation, and the world, and I am proud to support it. I am pleased that Columbia is working to gain the support of the community and will work together to gain the necessary approvals so we can begin work on this important project for Harlem and New York."

The Jerome L. Greene Science Center reaffirms Columbia's commitment to partnering with New York to advance the City's position as a world leader in science and medicine. Subject to completion of the appropriate public processes, the University envisions the Center being located in Manhattanville in West Harlem, in close proximity to both the Morningside Heights and the Medical Center campuses.

"The generous and unprecedented support of the Greene family will help ensure that this type of critical research continues at Columbia University—one of the City's great educational institutions and partners," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "Our city is built on the strength of its residents and the Greene family exemplifies what it means to be a good neighbor and friend to New York City. The establishment of The Jerome L. Greene Science Center solidifies our city's place on the forefront of leading scientific research and ensures Columbia's position as a national leader in the study of neurological and behavioral sciences."

Columbia University is recognized as a global leader in the neurosciences. Columbia scientists and researchers, including Drs. Jessell, Axel, and Kandel, all noted Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, have made seminal contributions to the field. Additionally, Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president for Health and Biomedical Sciences and dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, is a distinguished neuroscientist.

Combining world-leading research and clinical capabilities, Columbia's activities include translating fundamental discoveries into new therapies for neurological diseases and psychiatric disorders. Recent important neuroscience initiatives at Columbia include the Kavli Institute for Brain Science, the Gatsby Initiative in Brain Circuitry, the Columbia Motor Neuron Center and the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience.

"Our generation of scientists has come to believe that the biology of the mind will be as important scientifically to the 21st century as the biology of the gene was for the 20th century," said Dr. Kandel. "We therefore view the establishment of The Jerome L. Greene Science Center as a major step forward for the study of the science, brain, and mind, both at Columbia and nationally. In addition to assuring that Columbia retains national leadership in the neurosciences, the new initiative in mind, brain, and behavior within the Center will attempt to bridge the sciences concerned with the natural world with the meaning of human experience. Insights that come from this new synthesis will not only improve our understanding of psychiatric and neurological disorders, but will also lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves, by bridging the biology of mind to other areas of knowledge – philosophy, psychology, sociology, economics and education."

Research conducted within the Center will provide an unparalleled opportunity for linking research in the neurosciences to Columbia's existing strengths in other scientific disciplines, notably physics, chemistry, engineering and psychology. In addition, the Center will have a catalytic role in forging closer ties between the brain sciences, the programs of the business and law schools, and the many disciplines of the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Through the integration of these programs, The Jerome L. Greene Science Center will ensure Columbia's continued leadership in the modern study of the brain and mind.

Jerome L. Greene was a founding member of the Manhattan law firm of Marshall, Bratter, Greene, Allison & Tucker. He credited Columbia University with providing him the foundation for his professional success. The Greenes have been indispensable partners with Columbia, contributing approximately $40 million prior to this most recent gift to initiate and fortify key programs at the Law School and across the University. At Columbia Law School, they include Greene Hall, the Greene, Liebman and Sovern Scholarships, The Jerome Greene Fund for Clinical Education and the endowment of The Jerome L. Greene Professorship in Transactional Law. Since his passing in 1999, Dawn Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation have continued his tradition of support for Columbia with major gifts including The Jerome L. and Dawn Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Mailman School of Public Health and the endowment of The Jerome L. and Dawn Greene Professorship in Epidemiology.

Jerome and Dawn Greene's generous philanthropy has underwritten the work of many other prominent New York City institutions, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Juilliard School, WNET/Channel 13, and the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center.