Harvard Neuroscience

The Program in Neuroscience draws together neuroscientists from across Harvard. The physical home base of the program is located at the Longwood Campus of Harvard Medical School, in the Department of Neurobiology.

Research sites include the Longwood Medical Area, Cambridge Campus, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the McLean Hospital. The Center for Brain Science unites many neuroscience labs and houses in the newly established Swartz Program in Theoretical Neuroscience.

George Church, PhD – Harvard

Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Director, PersonalGenomes.org and the Church Lab

Dr. Church was part of a team of six that proposed in 2012 a Brain Activity Map which morphed into the BRAIN Initiative. They outlined specific experimental techniques that might be used to achieve what they termed a "functional
connectome"  as well as new technologies to detect and manipulate neuronal activity. In a 2015 Neuron article, they proposed establishing a national network of Brain Observatories.

My stroke of insight

"Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one."

Filmed February 2008 at TED 2008
Uploaded to YouTube on March 13, 2008 by TED

Sydney Cash, MD/PhD – Mass General

Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Assistant in Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Principal Investigator, Cortical Physiology Lab

Dr. Cash's lab's research is, broadly speaking, dedicated to trying to understand normal and abnormal brain activity, particularly oscillations, using multi-modal and multi-scalar approaches with long term goals of improving therapies for patients with epilepsy.

Nanomagnetic Stimulation Capability

Principal Investigators: Sydney Cash, MD/PhD – Mass General and Nian X. Sun, PhD – Northeastern
Title: Nanomagnetic Stimulation Capability for Neural Investigation and Control
BRAIN Category: Neuroengineering and Brain-inspired concepts and design

Abstract not yet available.

Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI)

Principal Investigator: Lawrence Wald
Neuroscience@Harvard
Title: "Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) for Functional Brain Imaging in Humans"
BRAIN Category: Next Generation Human Imaging (RFA MH-14-217)

The Wald team plans to use an iron-oxide contrast agent to track blood volume, which will permit dramatically more sensitive imaging of human brain activity than existing methods.

HarvardX course- Fundamentals of Neuroscience (video)

The Fundamentals of Neuroscience Part 3: The Brain This free Harvard edX course, MCB80x, will return on 9/30/15Part 3: The Brain is Now Open for Registration!

Do you want to learn about how brains perceive the world? The third module will explore sensation, perception and the physiology of functional regions of the brain. Register now for the start of the course on September 30th.

Joshua R Sanes, PhD – Harvard

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Director, Sanes Lab and Center for Brain Science

Key questions that Joshua Sanes is exploring is how are complex neural circuits assembled in young animals and how do they process information in adults? To understand how these circuits form, we mark retinal cell types transgenically, map their connections, seek recognition molecules that mediate their connectivity, use genetic methods to manipulate these molecules, and assess the structural and functional consequences of removing or swapping them.

Bradley Hyman, MD, PhD – Mass General

Director, Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center & Co-Director, MGH Memory Disorders Unit & Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Member of Multi-Council Working Group (NIA council)

Brad Hyman studies the anatomical and molecular basis of dementia in Alzheimer’s disease, and Dementia with Lewy Bodies. His research includes a collaborative of several labs working on different aspects of neurodegenerative disease and dementia.

Bruce Robert Rosen, MD, PhD – Mass General

Professor in Radiology, Harvard Medical School and Director, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
Member of Multi-Council Working Group (NIBIB council)

Dr. Rosens's research for the past thirty years has focused on the development and application of physiological and functional nuclear magnetic resonance techniques, as well as new approaches to combine functional MRI data with information from other modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and noninvasive optical imaging.

Why study the retina? Josh Sanes Explains

Harvard University Professor and Director of Harvard's Center for Brain Sciences, Josh Sanes, shares why he thinks understanding synaptic connection networks matter and how mapping the retinal connectome will fundamentally change how we think about the human brain.

Animated video published on Dec. 8, 2012 by Sebastian Seung

Fundamentals of Neuroscience- Harvard edX

Fascinating animations, videos, interactive materials, virtual labs. and other educational resources. Developed using open source platform Open EdX that many other universities and companies in addition to Harvard are using.

Fundamentals of Neuroscience, Part I and Fundamentals of Neuroscience Part 2: Neurons and Networks are archived and can be accessed at anytime once sign up to course.

Happiness and its surprises

"Cognitive researcher Nancy Etcoff looks at happiness -- the ways we try to achieve and increase it, the way it's untethered to our real circumstances, and its surprising effect on our bodies."

Filmed February 2004 at TED 2004
Uploaded to YouTube on June 15, 2009 by TED

Connectomics- Jeff Lichtman

Despite intense interest in the ways brains work, we still have quite a rudimentary understanding of this organ, especially compared to our knowledge of the other organ systems in the body.

One central problem is that brain function is based on a much more complicated cellular organization than found in any other part of the body

Zhang uses optogenetics to understand the brain

Feng Zhang, an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, discusses the work of his research team on the brain and its relationship to the President's Brain Initiative. He spoke with NSF's Lisa-Joy Zgorski during his visit to NSF in May of 2014 to receive NSF's most prestigious award for young investigators, the Alan T. Waterman Award, with which he was awarded $1 million to further his research.

NSF BRAIN Initiative
Published APRIL 2, 2014

Pediatric Epilepsy Research Lab- Mass General

Principal Investigator: Kevin J. Staley
Neuroscience@Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital

The lab's research goal is the development of new approaches to the treatment of epilepsy based on a clearer understanding of the necessary steps in seizure initiation and propagation. The two major themes in the lab are neuronal ion transport and the spread of activity in neural networks combining fluorescent imaging of network activity with computerized analysis and modeling to understand how normal and abnormal signaling progresses through neural networks.

Kevin J. Staley, MD – Harvard Med

Professor of Child Neurology and Mental Retardation, Harvard Medical School
Unit Chief, Pediatric Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Director, Pediatric Epilepsy Research Lab

Staley focuses on neuronal ion transport and the spread of activity in neural networks. Research interests include epilepsy, synaptic physiology, and neural network activity. Research techniques used: single cell electrophysiology, in vivo radiotelemetry, ion-sensitive fluorescent imaging of ion transport and neural network activity, computer modeling.

Sanes Lab – Harvard

Principal Investigator: Joshua R Sanes
Neuroscience@Harvard

The Sanes Lab wants to learn how neural circuits are assembled in young animals and how they process information in adults. A particular focus is identification and analysis of synaptic recognition molecules responsible for the amazing specificity of connections that underlies complex neural processing. We use a combination of genetic, molecular, histological and electrophysiological approaches to address these issues. Our main model system is the mouse retina.

Engert Lab – Harvard

Director: Florian Engert
Program in Neuroscience @Harvard

The general goal of the laboratory is the comprehensive identification and examination of neural circuits controlling behavior using the larval zebrafish as a model system. To that end, we have established and quantified a series of visually induced behaviors and analyzed the individual resulting motor components. An extended goal is the study of how changes or variations in the behavior are reflected in changes in the underlying neuronal activity.

Florian Engert, PhD – Harvard

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University
Director, Engert Lab

The general goal of my research is the development of the larval zebrafish as a model system for the comprehensive identification and examination of neural circuits controlling visually induced behaviors. My lab plans to establish and quantify a series of visually induced behaviours and analyze the individual resulting motor components. Using these assays we will monitor neuronal activity throughout the fish brain in an awake and intact preparation.

Neural circuits in zebrafish

Principal Investigator: Florian Engert
Program in Neuroscience @Harvard
Title: "Neural circuits in zebrafish: form, function and plasticity"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Engert's team will combine a wide array of cutting-edge neuroscience techniques to watch the entire brain activity of a see-through fish while it swims, and to make detailed maps of its brain circuitry.

Mapping neuronal chloride microdomains

Principal Investigator: Kevin J. Staley
Neuroscience@Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital
Title: "Mapping neuronal chloride microdomains"
BRAIN Category: Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)

Using protein engineering technology to monitor the movement of chloride through inhibitory neurotransmitter receptor channels, Dr. Staley's group aims to understand the role of chloride microdomains in memory.

Neuronal Subtypes By Cell Transcriptomics

Principal Investigator: Joshua R Sanes
Neuroscience@Harvard
Title: "Comprehensive Classification Of Neuronal Subtypes By Single Cell Transcriptomics"
BRAIN Category: Census of Cell Types (RFA MH-14-215)

Dr. Sanes and colleagues will use new methods of genetic screening to comprehensively catalog and distinguish different kinds of cells across species and brain regions.

Lawrence Wald, Phd – Harvard Med

Associate Professor in Radiology, Harvard Medical School
Associate Biophysicist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Director, MGH NMR Core, Martinos Center

Technique development for high field imaging of the Brain. Development of 7 Tesla scanner and coils for imaging human brain function, highly parallel phased array coil development for 3T and 7T, Parallel transmit methods for B1+ mitigation in the head at 7T, and highly accelerated echo volume imaging.

Advanced MRI Technologies (AMRIT)

President, Advanced MRI Technologies (AMRIT)

AMRIT is a research and development company in the field of medical and scientific imaging. The main objective is to find new uses for MRI and to provide the technical knowledge needed to conduct medical and neuroscience studies with the advanced MRI methods. The specific focus of AMRIT is in brain, heart and cancer studies with magnetic resonance imaging.

Center for Biomedical Imaging

Principal Investigator: Lawrence Wald
Neuroscience@Harvard

The Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging dual mission includes translational research using state-of-the-art imaging technologies and ongoing development of those technologies. The core technologies being developed and used at the Center include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and more (see the navigation menu on the left for a complete list of the technologies). A key area of innovation is Multimodal Functional Neuroimaging.

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