- Message from the Head
A Message from Department Head Jim DiCarlo
As a Department, basic science is our core strength, as this is the key to applications ranging from detection, prevention and treatment of disorders of the mind, to next-generation intelligence systems, and to improvements in how we educate our children. Our incredible community is making real progress working towards these initiatives in service of our mission — “to reverse engineer the mechanisms of the mind.”
For this special issue, we focus on an area of research with overwhelming societal impact: disorders of the mind. The BCS Complex (a.k.a MIT Building 46) is currently the hub of several important collaborative activities in this space, including the Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research, the Poitras Center for Psychiatric Disorders Research, the Simons Center for the Social Brain, the Aging Brain Initiative, and the newly-established Alana Down Syndrome Center. Research organized by and through these efforts and others is progressing rapidly. Indeed, many BCS faculty members, employing a variety of cutting-edge tools and techniques, study mechanisms that are currently thought to be most closely related to developmental disorders such as autism and dyslexia, to neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Learn more about Prof. Li-Huei Tsai’s research that recently made a splash in the news, shedding light on a new, potentially non-invasive way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Our feature story does a deep dive into four of the many BCS faculty members working directly on how brain mechanisms can go awry. From where I sit, all of these amazing efforts and those of our entire community have one key thing in common — they each aim to build a scientific understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the mind. That scientific understanding will in turn lead to the emergence of entirely novel, rationally designed and highly effective ways to detect and ameliorate disorders of the mind.
Though many questions about the brain and mind are left to answer, one thing is certain: we will not succeed in our mission without the hard work and dedication of our amazing community. From our faculty leading the charge in the labs to the significant efforts of our students, postdocs, research and administrative staff who do the work day-to day; to the friends of the Department who provide the resources and support we need to keep going — you are all vital to our mission. Each and every day, seeing your faces in the labs, hallways and classrooms reminds me of how lucky I am to be a part of this one of a kind community.