USC Targets Neurosciences as Key University-wide Focus
Provost’s Professor Pat Levitt has been named chair of a faculty committee that will work to raise USC’s neuroscience programs to a level of undisputed academic excellence and to recruit transformative faculty to accelerate that rise.
Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, announced the appointment Jan. 12, saying that the Neuroscience Advisory Committee will work with the more than 90 faculty members involved in the neuroscience program “to recommend ways to better transcend school and disciplinary boundaries.”
The group also will propose ways to integrate research and teaching university-wide, she said, as well as “to collaborate on significant proposals for external funding and philanthropic support, and to ensure that the research done at USC has the impact and influence it merits.”
Levitt, director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, called participating in the committee’s work “a once-in-an-academic-career opportunity” and said that because the field of neuroscience impinges on so many other disciplines, its mastery is crucial to reach the highest levels of academic distinction.
He noted: “When one looks at the common thread of excellence at the top universities in the United States, neuroscience is the discipline that is outstanding at each and every institution. USC can reach [its] lofty goals by investing in neuroscience, and the many disciplines that it impacts — from economics, law, social sciences and business to biology, chemistry, psychology and medicine. New faculty hires will occur in some of these disciplines university-wide.”
Levitt said the areas in which USC is poised to make a significant impact include biomedical neuroimaging.
“We have outstanding neuroimaging led by the Dana & David Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center on the University Park campus, which focuses on high-level questions of consciousness, perception, and social and moral behavior.
“These are important questions. We hope to complement that by making a major growth effort in biomedical neuroimaging so that we can contribute to both the understanding of brain diseases and new treatments and interventions for these conditions that impact people and their families very severely,” he said.
He added that this growth effort “will complement our strengths in genetics and basic neuroscience studies of brain diseases, creating a fabulous, interdisciplinary, collegial community of scientists and students.”
Garrett is soliciting from USC’s schools the names of outstanding neuroscientists with records of accomplishment that distinguish them as major scholarly figures and with convincing evidence of future productivity and influence.
She said that consideration “will be given to the proposed faculty member’s success in mentoring Ph.D. students, in attracting top postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty, and in interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition to providing a CV [course of life], nominators should discuss the likelihood that such recruitment will be successful, and how the work of the scholar will complement the work being done by our own exceptional faculty. Hiring clusters of faculty also will be considered.”
The Neuroscience Advisory Committee will review submissions and advise Garrett on the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. Her office then will work with school deans to determine the types of university-level assistance and resources that can be provided to achieve success in recruiting the candidate.
To submit names for consideration or for additional information, e-mail executive vice provost Michael Quick at email@example.com.