Sixty years ago, when neurology department professor Harry Grundfest was doing groundbreaking research that attracted the likes of future Nobel laureate Eric Kandel to Columbia, he designed a workspace at the medical center that was intended to promote maximum contact among his postdoctoral students.
Research rooms surrounded a large central area, where a blackboard filled an entire wall and long tables and chairs filled the middle, according to a monograph written later by one of the post-docs. Discussions and debates occurred throughout the day, particularly at lunch, where on the center table sat several jars of Kosher sour dill pickles, delivered regularly from the Lower East Side.
Now rising on the onetime site of parking lots and warehouses in Manhattanville is the University’s effort to recreate that kind of collaborative space in the Jerome L. Greene Science Building—not just for a single department, but for a wide range of disciplines related to neuroscience. The first new structure to be completed in the University’s long-term campus plan, the nine-story, 450,000-square-foot building will have 60 laboratories where faculty and students will explore the relationships between gene function, brain wiring and behavior—research with vast implications for the treatment of brain illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.