Dean's Distinguished Lecture in
the Basic Science
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 twenty 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.
"An Electrophysiologist's View of Space and Time"
Steven A. Siegelbaum, PhD
Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology
Chair, Department of Neuroscience
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Columbia University Medical Center
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
P&S Alumni Auditorium
650 West 168th Street, First Floor
Steven A. Siegelbaum has been interested in electrical signaling in nerve and muscle since he first read a book by Isaac Asimov about the human brain while a high school student. He pursued his interests in neuroscience as an undergraduate at Harvard College, where he was counseled by a future Nobel laureate that he might consider pursuing a career outside of research given Siegelbaum's inventive answers to his first written exam. Undeterred, Dr. Siegelbaum worked on nerve cell development in the lab of Paul Patterson and received an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences in 1974. Then as a graduate student, he investigated the importance of calcium in the electrical activity of the heart in the laboratory of Richard W. Tsien at Yale University, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Pharmacology in 1978. Dr. Siegelbaum then moved to London and Paris, where he worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of David Colquhoun and Philippe Ascher, examining basic mechanisms of communication at the nerve-muscle synapse.
Dr. Siegelbaum arrived at Columbia in 1981, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, where he planned to return to his studies of electrical activity of the heart. In what was to be a brief detour, he began a collaboration with Eric Kandel, examining how modulatory neurotransmitters control ion channel function and neuronal activity. That detour has now lasted more than 31 years, as Dr. Siegelbaum continues to investigate how the basic electrophysiological properties of nerve cells contribute to higher order neural processes, including the storage of memories of events that take place in space and time.
In 1986 Dr. Siegelbaum joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an Assistant Investigator. Promoted to Associate Professor in 1988 and to Professor and HHMI Investigator in 1992, Dr. Siegelbaum's title was changed to Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology upon the creation of the Department of Neuroscience in 2007. He became Chair of the department in 2009. He has served on the editorial boards of Channels, the Journal of General Physiology, the Journal of Neurophysiology, the Journal of Neuroscience, and Neuron. In 2012 Dr. Siegelbaum was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.
PAST DISTINGUISHED LECTURERS IN THE BASIC SCIENCES
2010-11 - Andrea Califano
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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