Richard W. Tsien, Internationally Renowned Scientist, to Be Inaugural Director of New Neuroscience Institute

Newswise — NYU Langone Medical Center announced today that it has appointed internationally renowned scientist and leader Richard W. Tsien, DPhil, as the first director of the Neuroscience Institute and the Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience, effective January 2012. Dr. Tsien—a member of both the Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences and a former Rhodes Scholar—joins NYU Langone from Stanford University, where he currently serves as the George D. Smith Professor of Molecular and Genetic Medicine in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology.

In 2009, NYU Langone Medical Center received a $100 million gift from the Druckenmiller Foundation to establish a state-of-the-art neuroscience institute and to provide for the recruitment and support of the highest caliber neuroscientists. The appointment of Dr. Tsien further reinforces NYU Langone’s existing strengths and will enable it to become a leader in translational neuroscience. “With Dr. Tsien’s appointment, this is truly a momentous time for the Medical Center,” said Robert I. Grossman, MD, dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center. “Dr. Tsien’s expertise and intellectual brilliance in the field of neuroscience is unparalleled, and we are confident that with his leadership, we will reach a new pinnacle in clinical and research excellence in the field of neuroscience.”

“NYU Langone’s new Neuroscience Institute will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring neuroscientists together in a way that facilitates achievement by closely allying molecular and cellular neuroscience with systems, cognitive and computational neuroscience,” said Dr. Tsien. “The neuroscientists in the NYU community have a breadth and depth of talent and commitment to innovation that provides the foundation for us to rank among the best in both fundamental research and clinical application of original discoveries. I am thrilled to be joining NYU Langone Medical Center and its visionary leadership and to help us strive toward these lofty goals.”

As an educator and administrator, Dr. Tsien has been engaged in fostering science and education beyond the boundaries of his own lab. He is an energetic teacher and initiator of courses in physiology, biophysics and neuroscience and mentor of many highly successful scientists and clinicians. At Stanford, Dr. Tsien founded and served as the inaugural chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology. After a six-year term as chair, he went on to foster a successful Stanford-wide movement to establish an institute for neuroscience, the Stanford Brain Research Center, and served as its co-director from 2000 through 2005. He served a 10-year term as the director and principal investigator at Stanford’s Silvio Conte Center for Neuroscience Research. He also co-chaired a committee on diversity at Stanford and served on several search committees and advisory boards.

As a scientist, Dr. Tsien is a world leader in the study of calcium channels and neurotransmission. He studies how synapses contribute to neuronal computation and network function in both healthy and diseased brain. His research, generously supported by the NIH and private foundations, has contributed substantially to understanding how neurotransmitters, drugs and molecular alterations regulate calcium channels and has implications for diverse clinical areas such as pain and autism. Recent experiments, presented at NYU, show altered social behavior in a mouse model of a rare, monogenic form of autism spectrum disorder. His research has been published in over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, and he has served on editorial boards for numerous journals. He has also served as section chair for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Neuroscience Section) and the National Academy of Sciences (Neurobiology Section) and has been a member of scientific advisory boards for several institutes, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Tsien to NYU Langone and look forward to having him help us realize our vision to develop the world’s preeminent institute dedicated to neuroscience. His talents as a world-class scientist, builder and true visionary assure a brilliant future for our institute,” said Vivian S. Lee, MD, PhD, MBA, senior vice president, vice dean for science and chief scientific officer. “We are honored to have him join us.”

Born in China, Dr. Tsien came to the United States as a child and later received both an undergraduate and graduate degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was then named a Rhodes Scholar, graduating with his doctorate in biophysics from Oxford University, England. He then joined the faculty at Yale University School of Medicine and served for nearly two decades before being recruited to Stanford to found and lead the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology. Dr. Tsien comes from a distinguished family of scientists and engineers. His family’s rise from struggling immigrant status to success and influence epitomizes the American dream.

About NYU Langone Medical Center:NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class patient-centered integrated academic medical center, is one of the nation’s premier centers for excellence in health care, biomedical research, and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is comprised of three hospitals – Tisch Hospital, a 705-bed acute-care tertiary facility, Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the first rehabilitation hospital in the world, with 174 beds and extensive outpatient rehabilitation programs, and the 190-bed Hospital for Joint Diseases, one of only five hospitals in the world dedicated to orthopaedics and rheumatology—plus the NYU School of Medicine, one of the nation’s preeminent academic institutions. For more information, visit

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