Campus news in brief

CNBC celebrates 20th year of research

Much of the university’s brain research began 20 years ago, when the Richard King Mellon Foundation gave a $12 million gift to launch the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a research center built on collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh that focuses on neuroscience. More recently, Carnegie Mellon announced its BrainHub initiative in support of the federal BRAIN initiative for neuroscience research.

The CNBC will celebrate its 20th anniversary this weekend, Oct. 17–18.

“To have two universities across the street from each other, and to have them decide to collaborate rather than compete, is very special,” said Peter L. Strick, Pitt co-director of the CNBC, distinguished professor, and chair of the department of neurobiology at Pitt, in a university press release. “The CNBC has an open architecture that allows interactions between scientists and colleagues — regardless of their home institution. Students can seamlessly move between Pitt and CMU labs and draw on the expertise of faculty at both institutions.

This cross-disciplinary and cross-university atmosphere has allowed the CNBC — and therefore CMU and Pitt — to recruit and keep scientists and researchers and attract the brightest students.”

The CNBC is a joint effort between the neighboring universities that combines the University of Pittsburgh’s strengths in bioengineering, math, psychology, and neuroscience with Carnegie Mellon’s strengths in psychology, computer science, biology, and statistics.

Researchers for the CNBC investigate the mechanisms behind human cognition; the CNBC also includes an interdisciplinary graduate and postdoctoral training program.

The 20th anniversary celebration will include several keynote and alumni speakers, an art exhibit, and the presentation of the first Friend of the CNBC Award.

Philosophy department partners with Pitt

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently gave an $11 million grant to create the Center for Causal Modeling and Discovery, a joint effort between Carnegie Mellon’s department of philosophy and the University of Pittsburgh.

The new center will foster collaboration between Carnegie Mellon philosophy faculty and a team of researchers that draws from the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Yale University, Rutgers University, and other collaborators. The researchers will focus on developing tools that can find causal links in large and complex pools of biomedical data.

Gregory Cooper, professor and vice chair of the department of biomedical informatics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the new Center for Causal Modeling and Discovery, said in a university press release that while much of science focuses on finding the “how” or “why,” now the challenge is to find these answers among “big data” — corpuses of terabytes or petabytes of data.