Our Commitment to

The Future of Neuroscience



Understanding the brain holds tremendous potential to transform human health and society. In the foreseeable future, millions of lives will be saved or improved with new treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Insights into the brain and its links to behavior will lead to innovation and advances in countless disciplines, from economics and philosophy to artificial intelligence and social policy.

How do we think, feel, and move, sense our surroundings, control our emotions, and make difficult decisions? Columbians are answering these and other vital questions through interdisciplinary collaborations that bring together extraordinary scientists, scholars, and clinicians, building the future of neuroscience.

The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe, with 100 billion neurons, each connected in turn to 10,000 other neurons—resulting in trillions of connections. Only in the last 30 years have we achieved the technological capacity to map this intricate web, gaining new insight into the brain’s architecture and mechanics. We need to draw on an understanding of all forms of human knowledge and activity to unlock the complexity of brain and mind. And conveying clear understanding to our students as future leaders in all fields and to the broader public is an essential aspect of our mission.

So much remains to be discovered. Treatments for brain-related disorders like autism, depression, and schizophrenia. How we learn and how we remember. What drives decision-making. The nature of perception and creativity. How we develop consciousness. How we connect these and other dimensions into a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

No one discipline can encompass the immense complexity of the brain and mind. So Columbia is creating the most comprehensive brain science community in the world.

From the interdisciplinary Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute to the Columbia University Medical Center, scientists and clinicians are using state-of-the-art imaging tools and computational power—all with the goal of revolutionizing our understanding of brain and mind and developing much-needed treatments for brain-related disorders. Together, students and faculty in the social sciences, humanities, arts, economics, law, and engineering are developing new insights into the nature of thinking, acting, and being.

The Future of Neuroscience commits to this comprehensive effort at Columbia, supporting the complex technologies and University-wide collaborations required to heal—and reveal—the human brain.

Just as science in the 20th century was transformed by the discovery of DNA, so science and medicine in the 21st century will be transformed as we unlock the mysteries of the mind, paving the way to greater brain health and greater understanding of what it means to be human.

Eric Kandel, MD
Ideas and Impact
Key Facts

Billion dollars spent annually on nine common neurological diseases in the US


Columbia researchers and clinicians working to understand and treat the brain and mind


FDA-approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neurodegenerative disorder, administered at CUMC

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Key Related Sites

Zuckerman Institute     Neuroscience     Neurology     Psychiatry