About the Institute
Exploring the Boundaries of Brain and Mind
Understanding the mechanisms of the brain, the workings of the mind, and the complexities of human behavior is one of the central challenges of 21st-century science. Columbia University’s Mind Brain Behavior Initiative (MBBI) integrates research at the Morningside and Medical Center campuses in the study of the brain and its relationship to cognition and behavior. Led by Columbia’s pre-eminent neuroscientists, and supported by top academic leadership at the University, MBBI aims to tackle the science underlying human behavior and to solve diseases of the nervous system—from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to depression and autism. This transformational research initiative will have its home in the new Jerome L. Greene Center, and the Manhattanville campus.
“The Mind Brain Behavior Initiative will create opportunities for linkages among virtually all disciplines, since, at a profound level, we all study how the mind works.”
Lee C. Bollinger
Neuroscience, arguably more than any other discipline, has the potential to interact with a broad range of intellectual endeavors throughout the University. In this way it embodies Columbia’s interactive spirit and captures the energy behind the new Manhattanville campus.
Over the past 30 years, there have been revolutionary advances in our understanding of the brain and its component neurons and circuits. However, the detailed functioning of how these networks encode human behavior is still one of the most poorly understood aspects of modern biology—but one with far-reaching implications.
Through MBBI, the Greene Center in the Manhattanville campus, Columbia now has an unparalleled opportunity to address both the treatment of disease and the need for more nuanced understanding of the links between brain and behavior. The scale and complexity of this challenge calls for sustained interdisciplinary inquiry at the highest level.
Over the long term, success in understanding mind, brain, and behavior promises:
- Clearer insights into brain function and dysfunction
- Treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases
- Clarification of the logic of decision making and its relevance to economic and business strategies
- Refined theory and practice in law and the arts through a better understanding of the concepts of free will and aesthetics
At the turn of the 21st Century, Columbia is in a privileged position to build upon its world-class medical center and vibrant University-wide research community.
- Columbia is currently home to one of the world’s most distinguished neuroscience programs.
- Columbia possesses intellectual depth and range across disciplines—in the physical sciences, in law, in the humanities, in business, and in engineering—subjects with emerging relevance to neuroscience.
- Columbia encourages a spirit of collaboration and has made a commitment to link neuroscience with programs across the University.
- Columbia is anchored by a leading medical center, permitting MBBI to work with an eye toward patient care.
- Columbia values and promotes public leadership in the city and the world.
Columbia is home to three Nobel Prize–winning scientists and a dozen Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, and at the hub of MBBI lies Columbia’s pre-eminence in neuroscience with its codirectors Richard Axel, Thomas Jessell, and Eric Kandel.
A more coherent picture of problems of brain and mind can only emerge through an even more sophisticated and integrated research base.
- A new building on a new campus, made possible through the transformational generosity of Dawn Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, is presenting Columbia with unparalleled opportunities for the science of the next two decades.
- Scientific breakthroughs in the brain sciences will depend on the contributions of specialists in other fields working collaboratively with neuroscientists in the Greene Center.