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The Dean's Lecture Series
Alexander Ming Fisher Lecture

Dean's Distinguished Lecture in the Basic Sciences
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Dean's Distinguished Lecture in

the Basic Sciences

The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series was founded at the College of Physicians & Surgeons in 1981 to provide a forum and formal vehicle for interdisciplinary academic exchange in the basic sciences, clinical sciences, and humanities. The lectures are designed to emphasize the cross-collaborative nature of scientific inquiry and to enrich the traditional scholarly exchange between the health sciences faculties, the other branches of Columbia University, and the metropolitan New York medical community—all while honoring the school’s fundamental responsibility to maintain the highest standards of humanistic education.

Over the past thirty six years, we have been fortunate to have as speakers some of the world's leading basic scientists, clinicians, and humanistic scholars, all of whom have made significant and outstanding contributions to their respective fields. Yet, as expert as all of these speakers are in their areas of specialization, they have been able to bring their thoughts and experiences to life for those outside their traditional academic disciplines—some of whom ultimately have found new ways to advance this knowledge at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

Through the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series, we look forward to continuing our tradition of bringing together students, professors, researchers and clinicians in the spirit of true intellectual curiosity and academic cooperation—sowing the seeds, perhaps, for the next great breakthrough discovery or cure in the process.


2016-2017 EVENTS

Rene Hen, PhD

"The Ventral Hippocampus and Mood"

René Hen, PhD
Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology (in Psychiatry), Columbia University

Director of Division of Integrative Neuroscience, New York State Psychiatric Institute

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
4:30 p.m.
P&S Alumni Auditorium
650 West 168th Street, First Floor

René Hen was born in Strasbourg, France, and received his Ph.D. from University Louis Pasteur under the mentorship of Pierre Chambon. After a postdoctoral stay in Richard Axel's laboratory at Columbia University, Dr. Hen became an assistant professor in Strasbourg. He then returned to Columbia University, where he is presently a professor of pharmacology and neuroscience and the director of the division of integrative neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry. His laboratory is using animal models to elucidate the neural substrates that underlie mood and anxiety disorders.

René Hen has studied the contribution of serotonin (5-HT) receptors to pathological states such as depression and anxiety. Pharmacological studies and molecular cloning have identified several subtypes of receptors with distinct properties, signaling systems, and tissue distributions. However, the study of the function of individual serotonin receptor subtypes has been hampered by the lack of specific drugs. In addition, a number of the serotonergic drugs that are active in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders influence the whole serotonergic system. For example, antidepressants such as fluoxetine are 5-HT uptake blockers and potentiate the action of 5-HT at multiple post-synaptic sites. To dissect the contributions of individual serotonin receptors to physiology and behavior, mouse mutants lacking individual receptor subtypes were created in his laboratory, providing genetic models for a number of human behavioral traits such as impulsiveness, depression, and anxiety. Tissue specific and conditional knockouts have been used to identify the neural circuits underlying these traits. Recently Dr. Hen's lab has been investigating the function of the ventral hippocampus and the contribution of hippocampal neurogenesis to mood and cognition. Specifically, the Hen lab has shown that antidepressants stimulate the division of neuronal progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus, which in turn results in an increase in the number of young neurons in the adult hippocampus. Furthermore, they have shown that hippocampal neurogenesis is required for some of the behavioral effects of antidepressants and for pattern separation. Novel therapies aimed at directly targeting hippocampal stem cells are currently under investigation for the treatment of mood disorders and age-related memory impairments.


PAST DISTINGUISHED LECTURERS IN THE BASIC SCIENCES

2015-16 - Steven L. Reiner

2014-15 - Frank Costantini

2013-14 - Richard Mann
View Lecture Video

2012-13 - Steven A. Siegelbaum
View Lecture Video

2010-11 - Andrea Califano
View Lecture Video

2008-09 - Robert S. Kass
View Lecture Video

2007-08 - Marian Carlson
2004-05 - James E. Rothman
2003-04 - Andrew Marks
2002-03 - Eric Gouaux
2001-02 - Vincent Racaniello
2000-01 - Virginia E. Papaioannou
1999-00 - Lloyd A. Greene
1998-99 - Kathryn Calame
1997-98 - Gary Struhl
1996-97 - Michael D. Gershon
1995-96 - Thomas M. Jessell
1994-95 - Riccardo Dalla-Favera
1993-94 - Barry Honig
1992-93 - Argiris Efstratiadis
1991-92 - Stephen P. Goff
1990-91 - Arthur Karlin
1989-90 - Frederick Alt
1988-89 - Richard Axel
1987-88 - Wayne Hendrickson
1986-87 - Reinhold Benesch
1985-86 - Elvin Kabat
1984-85 - Harold Ginsberg
1983-84 - Eric Kandel
1982-83 - Brian Hoffman



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