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The Helen Wills
Neuroscience Institute

Deepening our understanding of the brain and the rest of the nervous system through original research and neurotechnology innovation, and training the next generation of neuroscientists.

The Helen Wills
Neuroscience Institute

Deepening our understanding of the brain and the rest of the nervous system through original research and neurotechnology innovation, and training the next generation of neuroscientists.

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PhD Program
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An image of dendritic spines on neurons in the mouse cortex, produced using new microscopy technology developed by HWNI member Eric Betzig.   

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Neuroscience

The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI) is the nexus for campus-wide multidisciplinary neuroscience research at UC Berkeley. Our community includes over 70 faculty members in 12 academic departments. This unique cross-departmental structure brings together experts from a variety of fields to use the power of interdisciplinary research to achieve breakthroughs in the study of the brain and nervous system, and to drive the development of novel treatments and technologies. 

We support our faculty and their labs in their individual research aims, and foster opportunities for collaboration. We also sponsor major research initiatives, run five innovative neurotechnology and research centers, and train the next generation of neuroscientists through our Neuroscience PhD Program and the training of postdoctoral fellows who conduct research in HWNI faculty labs. We also have over 100 PhD Program alumni who work in a variety of careers across the globe.

Latest News

Why does COVID-19 make you sneeze?

Why does COVID-19 make you sneeze?

The Bautista lab has found that a viral protein actively stimulates neurons that trigger sneezing.
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For new professor, psychedelics and octopuses may hold keys to the human mind

For new professor, psychedelics and octopuses may hold keys to the human mind

Gül Dölen is known for her research on how psychedelics affect "critical periods" and learning.
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Are stressed-out brain cells the root cause of neurodegenerative disease?

Are stressed-out brain cells the root cause of neurodegenerative disease?

Rapé lab research suggests that constant stress triggered by clumping proteins is killing brain cells.
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Department of Neuroscience to launch at UC Berkeley

Department of Neuroscience to launch at UC Berkeley

HWNI member and inaugural Neuroscience Department chair Dan Feldman discusses the exciting new department!
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Bob Knight receives 2024 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions

Bob Knight receives 2024 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions

Congratulations to HWNI member Robert Knight!
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World-renowned neuroscientist doctor Gül Dölen to join UC Berkeley faculty

World-renowned neuroscientist doctor Gül Dölen to join UC Berkeley faculty

Dölen will join HWNI, Psychology, and the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics.
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Cell types in the eye have ancient evolutionary origins

Cell types in the eye have ancient evolutionary origins

The Shekhar lab and collaborators found that retinal cell types are remarkably conserved across vertebrates.
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Berkeley Neuroscience PhD alum Emily Jacobs leads new initiative to advance study of women’s brain health

Berkeley Neuroscience PhD alum Emily Jacobs leads new initiative to advance study of women’s brain health

Jacobs directs UC’s Bowers Women’s Brain Health Initiative, which she wrote about in Nature.
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Recent Faculty Publications

06 Jun 2024
Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2024 Jun 4:129842. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2024.129842. Online ahead of print.ABSTRACTVoltage imaging of cardiac electrophysiology with voltage-sensitive dyes has long been a powerful complement to traditional methods like...
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05 Jun 2024
PLoS One. 2024 Jun 5;19(6):e0299764. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0299764. eCollection 2024.ABSTRACTBACKGROUND: Increased blood-brain barrier permeability (BBBp) has been hypothesized as a feature of aging that may lead to the development of Alzheimer's...
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31 May 2024
Chem Sci. 2024 Apr 25;15(21):8080-8088. doi: 10.1039/d4sc01183j. eCollection 2024 May 29.ABSTRACTFormaldehyde (FA) is both a highly reactive environmental genotoxin and an endogenously produced metabolite that functions as a signaling molecule...
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27 May 2024
bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 May 14:2023.06.08.544284. doi: 10.1101/2023.06.08.544284.ABSTRACTRecent work has uncovered relationships between evolutionarily new small and shallow cerebral indentations, or sulci, and human behavior. Yet, this relationship remains unexplored in...
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23 May 2024
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 May 28;121(22):e2315690121. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2315690121. Epub 2024 May 23.ABSTRACTThe prion-like spread of protein aggregates is a leading hypothesis for the propagation of neurofibrillary...
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