Skip to main content

Department of Neuroscience to launch at UC Berkeley

By January 31, 2024No Comments

The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI) is pleased to announce that UC Berkeley has approved the establishment of a Department of Neuroscience, which will launch on July 1, 2024. This is the first new department within the Division of Biological Sciences in more than three decades. It will be the academic home for neuroscience research and education on campus, spanning the entire range of neuroscience from molecules to behavior and cognition, including computational neuroscience and neurotechnology. The department will offer a new undergraduate major in neuroscience, which will begin accepting majors in fall 2024. It will also adopt the existing Neuroscience PhD Program, which will be run jointly with HWNI.

HWNI will continue to exist in its role as an interdepartmental institute for neuroscience. It will promote cross-campus neuroscience research, and sponsor scientific events, major research initiatives, and research and technology centers. We will work closely with the Neuroscience Department to support neuroscience research and education at UC Berkeley, and we are excited about this huge step forward for neuroscience on our campus!

HWNI member Dan Feldman led the effort to create the Neuroscience Department, and he will serve as its inaugural chair. To learn more, please read Dan’s message below, and visit the new Berkeley Neuroscience Department website. Dan also discusses goals for the new department in this interview with Berkeley Letters & Science.

Message from Dan Feldman

Dear Neuroscience Community,

I am very pleased to announce that campus has officially approved the establishment of the Neuroscience Department! The department will launch on July 1, 2024, as the academic home for the full spectrum of neuroscience research and education. We will have: 

  • 33 faculty whose research spans the entire range of neuroscience, from molecules to behavior and cognition, including computational neuroscience and neurotechnology
  • 15 faculty who are 100% Neuroscience Department members, and 18 who are 50-50 with another department
  • A new undergraduate major in neuroscience, to begin accepting majors in Fall 2024
  • Adoption of the HWNI PhD program as the Neuroscience PhD program which will be run jointly between the new department and HWNI
  • A community of >200 postdocs, PhD students, and laboratory staff who make important discoveries and publish in leading journals
  • Department offices and student gathering/event space on Barker 1st floor

I am proud of our broad scope and outstanding research and training, which make us one of the top neuroscience programs in the nation. This is the first new department at Berkeley in many years. Bringing the different areas of neuroscience together in one department will enable new synergies, bold new research questions, and improved training. I can’t wait to start working together as a departmental community.

We have a lot to do to prepare for launch. This includes setting policies and hiring staff to help run our programs. We already have an official logo (below, left) and an informal icon (below, right, thanks to Joni Wallis and Marla Feller).  The new departmental website will go live on Feb 1:


Answers to some frequently asked questions (if you missed the discussions):

  • The department will have four “areas” — Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience, Circuit Systems & Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Computational Neuroscience.
  • No physical lab moves are taking place. This means faculty labs will remain mostly in Weill, LKS, Warren & Barker, plus a few in Minor, BWW, Stanley, VLSB, and Koshland.
  • HWNI will continue to exist, and will promote cross-campus neuroscience research, research facilities, faculty growth, scientific events, and research funding competitions.
  • There will be no change in the PhD program for current students. Over time, program updates and improvements will be added.
  • New scientific and community events are forthcoming, including events to support the postdoc and graduate student community.
  • Diversity and inclusion are important priorities as we build our departmental culture, and will guide how we interact, teach, and build our community.

The roster of department faculty is: Hillel Adesnik, Helen Bateup, Annaliese Beery, Steve Brohawn, Yang Dan, Mike DeWeese, Gül Dölen, Dan Feldman, David Feinberg, Marla Feller, Yvette Fisher, John Flannery, David Foster, Jack Gallant, Udi Isacoff, Rich Ivry, Bill Jagust, Na Ji, Daniela Kaufer, Preeya Khanna, Rich Kramer, Lance Kriegsfeld, Stephan Lammel, Markita Landry, Bruno Olshausen, David Presti, Michael Silver, Frédéric Theunissen, Doris Tsao, Joni Wallis, Kevin Weiner, Linda Wilbrecht, and Michael Yartsev. This is an amazing group of scientists and mentors, and it will be exciting to be able to synergize as a department.

I want to thank some of the key people who have enabled this success, and who helped build Berkeley Neuroscience. Corey Goodman and Carla Shatz were early leaders who convinced campus to found the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, funded by a generous gift from Helen Wills. HWNI Directors Carla Shatz, Corey Goodman, Bob Knight, John Ngai and Udi Isacoff created an immensely successful HWNI that united and greatly expanded neuroscience on campus. Bioscience Dean Mike Botchan has worked since 2023 to shape the department proposal and push it through. Udi Isacoff provided critical support for the process. Many current faculty were on the Proposal Committee (Hillel, Rich, Daniela, Markita, Bruno, David, Frédéric, Joni), and others were on the L&S Executive Committee or Academic Senate committees and advocated for the proposal. Marla, Joni and Frédéric have worked to organize teaching. Many staff, including Leleña Avila, Barbara Peterson, and Dave Schonenberg from HWNI, Patrick Gutteridge from the HWNI development team, Heidi Wagner from the Dean’s Office, and Mark Jenkinson and Carina Galicia in BDS, provided hard work and critical advice for this effort.

I want to especially thank Corey Goodman and Vincent Cheung for their generous philanthropic support for the department at its launch. This was critical in winning campus approval, and is absolutely essential to allow us to launch our programs over the first 5 years, as the department builds up other funding streams. We truly appreciate their dedication to Berkeley Neuroscience!

Expect more information over the coming semester. We will be building the faculty committees to oversee department programs. These will have student and postdoc members whose input will be essential. I am excited to get started, and to come together as a department in 2024!




Dan Feldman

Coates Family Chair in Neuroscience

Department of Neuroscience

Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute