Although the Watson scandal was more public and hit faster, there has been another crisis brewing at CSHL for going on a year now that has been discussed in whispers at meetings and through emails, but let’s organize all of these free associations and questions into a single place and ask the big question:
What is going on with neuroscience at CSHL?
In the early years of this decade, the neuroscience community at CSHL was making such a name for itself that it was beginning to match the excellent reputation acquired by the entrenched genetics and cancer community there. A very productive group of labs stormed through a variety of problems, using a beautiful complement of model systems and approaches. Everything from molecular and physiology to systems and computational studies were streaming out of this motivated group. I should know, I was there.
Now, starting at the end of last year, there has been a steady retreat from the buildings along the Long Island sound. Here is an unofficial account of the movements:
Carlos Brody – to Princeton
Karel Svoboda – to Janelia Farm Research Campus
Zach Mainen – to Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Lisbon)
Holly Cline – to Scripps Research Institute
Josh Huang – (rumored) to Columbia University
Dmitri Chklovskii – to Janelia Farm Research Campus
Robert Malinow – (rumored) to UCSD
Tim Tully – unknown, but likely somewhere in San Diego
That leaves Tony Zador, Linda van Aelst, Josh Dubnau, Partha Mitra, Yi Zhong and two new hires, Adam Kepecs and Glenn Turner, in the department. Granted, this group can still utilize a diversity of systems and techniques to address current questions in neuroscience, and are indeed a competent group, but why is CSHL dragging its feet to replace the rest of the lost labs? The irony is that during this entire exodus, the lab has undertaken a massive building program to expand their research programs into more practical spaces. As of now, it seems like these new buildings will not house more neuroscience research. Hopefully, CSHL will get its affairs in order and continue to hire more programs dedicated to neuroscience. They have started this process by adding Kepecs and Turner, but these young investigators can’t do it all by themselves, and it would be a shame to lose the momentum gathered by the previous group by downsizing the emphasis on neuroscience now. I hope that pruning back is not the long-term plan.