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About the Institute

The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech, founded in 2016 with the generous support of philanthropists Tianqiao Chen and Chrissy Luo, brings together a cross-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers to investigate one of today's greatest challenges and opportunities: understanding the brain and how it works. Together, these researchers are probing the most sophisticated biological and chemical computing machine and advancing the most promising ideas from that work.

The Chen Institute at Caltech is a key component of a new neuroscience initiative that is geared toward deepening our understanding of the brain's structure and how the brain works at its most basic level, as well as why and how it fails as a result of disease or through the aging process.

Ultimately, this work aims to yield such transformational advances as new therapies, the reversal of diseases of aging, and an improvement in the human condition.

The Chen Institute at Caltech—directed by David Anderson, the Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator—draws upon Caltech's strengths across a broad range of disciplines. It brings together faculty from throughout Caltech's academic divisions, catalyzing interactions within a diverse community of researchers from neuroscientists and biologists to economists, chemists, physicists, computer scientists, social scientists, and engineers. The work of these researchers will be focused through the Chen Institute at Caltech's five interdisciplinary research centers:

The Chen Institute at Caltech—and its five centers—will ultimately be housed in a new state-of-the-art building that will be named in honor of the donors and function as the nexus for neuroscience research at Caltech.

Caltech has a long history of discoveries in basic science that have fundamentally transformed the landscape in neuroscience. This work includes Seymour Benzer's discovery that the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster could be used as a simple organism to study how genes influence behavior. It is also illustrated by Roger Sperry's Nobel Prize–winning discovery that the right and left sides of the human brain must communicate with each other for proper cognitive function. Caltech also has been home to groundbreaking achievements in computational neuroscience, such as Carver Mead's development of very-large-scale integrated circuits, which have been applied at Caltech and elsewhere to machine learning and machine vision. Indeed, it was at Caltech that the world's first graduate program in Computation and Neural Systems (CNS) was established in 1986; the CNS program continues to flourish to this day.