Neuroscience

Gatsby’s pioneering investment in neuroscience began in the 90’s with the establishment of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit (GCNU) at University College London, (UCL). In 2007 the Trustees made the decision to expand Gatsby’s efforts, specifically to link the GCNU with experimental neuroscience. For this new endeavor Gatsby has continued to be bold and innovative. In a funding partnership with the Wellcome Trust, it is developing a new research institute, the Sainsbury-Wellcome Centre (SWC) for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at UCL. As part of this new initiative, over the last four years, the Foundation has invested in a number of innovative collaborative research programmes in the broad area of neural circuits and behaviour around the world. The challenge that faces neuroscience in the coming decades is to obtain a coherent and unified view of the relationship between gene activity, neurons, neural circuit function, and behaviour. This requires multiple approaches: molecular and genetic technology, functional studies and anatomical observations at ever finer resolutions, and a more rigorous study of behaviour as these approaches are tested. The knowledge produced by this work we believe will long-term be of great value in the treatment of mental illness.

Our portfolio spans four key areas: circuit assembly and organization; information processing; behavioral systems and theoretical neuroscience, all of which are essential to meeting the challenge of understanding the circuits that underpin behaviour. Programs and Centers include:

  • Sainsbury-Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (UCL) Interim Director, John O Keefe
  • Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit (UCL) Director, Peter Dayan. Faculty: Latham, Sahani, Teh, Gretton
  • Häusser Laboratory Neural Computation Group, UCL
  • Functional Neurosurgery Group, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol Director, Prof Steven Gill
  • Columbia University, New York: Gatsby Initiative in Brain Circuitry Axel, Abbott, Jessell (and multiple faculty/project support)
  • Connectomics Consortium Sanes, Lichtman, Seung, Smith, Zhuang
  • Oxford Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour Miesenboeck, Waddell and others TBD
  • Interdisciplinary Centre for Neural Computation (ICNC), Hebrew University Sompolinsky, Tishby, Segev, Vadia, Nelken and others
  • California Circuits Consortium Ghosh, Deisseroth, Scanziani, Callaway, Reynolds

Complementary Investments

In addition to our core programs and centers we invest strategically in aspects of neuroscience that support and complement our core vision. This includes operational and meeting support for the British Neuroscience Association (BNA) which has embarked upon a journey to develop itself to a level that truly represents the interests of UK neuroscience. This has involved the appointment of a scientific advisory board of key UK-based researchers; new efforts to increase and maintain membership; a major overhaul of the format, style and scope of the biennial scientific meeting; and, the formulation of a longer-term scientific and financial strategy. Gatsby also provides support for numerous meetings and symposia as well as convening our own meetings, typically with like-minded partners such as the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Swartz Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Kavli Foundation. These are invaluable opportunities to keep abreast of the science, identify future recruits and topical areas for investment.

BrainFacts.org

As a joint founding partner with The Kavli Foundation, Gatsby is providing significant support to the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) to create and maintain BrainFacts.org, a unique non-profit online source for authoritative public information about the progress and promise of brain research. BrainFacts.org will serve a unique and important function that is presently unfilled: assembling and disseminating scientifically vetted public information about the brain and nervous system to the broad public, sub-university level science educators, and public policy audiences. This will strengthen public awareness of growing scientific knowledge about the brain and how basic physical and life science research translates to better human health.

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