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Harvard University Launches Swartz Program in Theoretical Neuroscience

Old Field, NY, July 26, 2007 -- Harvard University and the Swartz Foundation today announced a new brain research program in theoretical and computational neuroscience at Harvard.

Based on a grant from the Swartz Foundation, Harvard University has established the Swartz Program in Theoretical Neuroscience. Led by Professors Haim Sompolinsky and Markus Meister, the Swartz Program will operate within the Center for Brain Science at Harvard, benefiting from its broad, interdisciplinary connections to neural, cognitive, and physical sciences. The Swartz Program will support postdoctoral fellows, who will engage in research collaborations with faculty members of the Center for Brain Science.

Over the past few years, the Center for Brain Science has recruited several promising junior and prominent senior faculty doing research on topics such as learning in songbirds, human motor psychophysics, large scale serial reconstruction of neural circuitry, development of inhibitory circuitry, decision-making in rodents, and fMRI studies of human memory. A new building, which will be completed in 2008, will house a large part of this research. These investigators will interact closely with an already strong group having expertise in primate physiology (at the Medical School), neural circuit function in animal model systems (in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences), and cognitive neuroscience (in the Psychology Department). The Swartz Program will aid in structuring a program in theoretical neuroscience to interact with these ongoing experimental efforts.

Haim Sompolinsky said, “The Swartz Foundation has taken the lead in building theoretical neuroscience in the United States over the past several years. To complement the Swartz Program, other faculty at Harvard are being recruited to the Center for Brain Science, and new courses are being offered at the undergraduate and graduate level. The Swartz Program will provide for research collaborations between theorists and experimentalists.”

Jerry Swartz, founder and chairman of the Swartz Foundation, said, “Harvard University’s commitment to research in neurobiology over the years is well known. We are pleased to collaborate with Harvard in opening a center for theoretical neuroscience, which also serves as a signpost of the accelerating progress in this important field of research. It’s exciting to note that our sharpened focus on understanding the brain and mind is becoming the basis of an interdisciplinary curriculum at Harvard.”

The Swartz Foundation was established by Jerry Swartz in 1994 to explore the application of mathematical physics, computer science, systems analysis and behavioral psychology to theoretical neurobiology, as a path to better understand the brain/mind relationship.

The foundation supports post-doc research in theoretical neuroscience at 11 universities and scientific institutions, through centers at Harvard University (established in 2007), Princeton University, Yale University (2006), Columbia University (2005), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (2004), and UC San Diego (2002), and, in partnership with the Sloan Foundation, at their original five Centers for Theoretical Neurobiology (1994) at Salk Institute, Cal Tech, UC San Francisco, NYU/Courant and Brandeis University. The Swartz Foundation also sponsors conferences, workshops, seminars, and public lectures in brain science.

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