Prof. Moshe Bar, Director Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center

On July 25th, 1989, President George Bush signed a resolution declaring the 1990s to be “The Decade of the Brain,” signaling America’s commitment to neuroscience research. In another event that was a decade in the making, Bar-Ilan is soon to celebrate the tenth anniversary of one of its flagship institutions: the University’s Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center.

The Gonda Center is devoted to solving the scientific world’s biggest puzzle: how the human brain allows us to perceive and understand the environment, while generating our memory, thoughts and emotions. Today, over 30 senior researchers pursue their goals in the Gonda Center’s magnificent North Campus building, designed as an architectural expression of the Center’s ultimate goal: to provide a fully-integrated research and teaching environment where scientists trained in a variety of fields build a common language in order to work – and succeed – together. Since the beginning of the 2012 academic year, the Center’s Director has been Prof. Moshe Bar, one of the world's leading researchers in cognitive neuroscience.

Prior to joining the faculty at Bar-Ilan, Prof. Bar served as associate professor in psychiatry and radiology at Harvard Medical School, and associate professor in psychiatry and neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also directed the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. Prof. Bar’s research focuses on how the brain extracts and uses contextual information to generate predictions and efficiently guide cognition.

Prof. Bar – whose undergraduate training in electrical engineering, MA in computer science, and PhD in cognitive psychology make him a “poster child” for multidisciplinary science – says that the education received by Gonda Center graduate students is unlike anything available anywhere else in the world. “We require our incoming students to pass courses in subjects including mathematics, physics, computer science, cell biology, neurochemistry, cognitive psychology, and language, to ensure that everyone is equipped to see the big picture,” he says, adding that this approach gives students from a variety of backgrounds the ability to work effectively with their colleagues. “The proof is in the pudding: we receive over 60 applications every year, for a very limited number of places in the graduate school. We also have a highly competitive undergraduate program that provides students with an exposure to the fundamentals of brain science.”

As he looks towards the next ten years, Prof. Bar says that the Gonda Brain Center is well positioned to continue to achieve major advances in science, both in basic research, and in the “translational” discoveries that will be parleyed into practical treatments and techniques for improved health and wellbeing. “We have very ambitious plans, based both on the talented people who are already here on staff, and on the new faculty we hope to recruit in the future,” he says. “All-in-all, being at the multidisciplinary intersection of the last major frontier of science that is brain research, surrounded by superb intellectual talent and a host of exciting destinations, we feel fortunate and ready to work.”
For more on Prof. Bar click here.