New Department of Neuroscience

January 8, 2024

Dear Friends of The Division of Biological Sciences,

I am excited to announce that UC Berkeley’s Division of Biological Sciences is launching its first new department in more than three decades. The Department of Neuroscience will create a holistic center for students and researchers to examine the brain and the rest of the nervous system.

With this move, we will be able to begin accepting undergraduate students into a new neuroscience major. We are also planning to expand our cluster of graduate students.

Neuroscience has a long history at UC Berkeley, from early fundamental science to the hiring of faculty in the 1960s to the establishment of what is now called the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute in 1997. Around 70 professors across a dozen departments now work on some aspect of this interdisciplinary field, be it neurobiology, psychology, optometry, engineering, or cognitive science. We will welcome some professors into our new department and continue to partner with faculty members who choose to stay in their respective units.

Read more about our upcoming plans in our interview with Professor Dan Feldman, who led the multi-year effort to create the department and will serve as its inaugural chair.

As Professor Feldman says, “neuroscience is clearly in its era of major discovery.” We have researchers who are advancing the BRAIN Initiative’s cell census, which is the neuroscience equivalent of the Human Genome Project. In just the past few months, Berkeley researchers have decoded songs from brain activitytranslated thoughts into speech, and announced results from the world’s highest resolution MRI scanner

With major breakthroughs occurring all around Berkeley, the entire campus community will benefit from a cohesive department that breaks down boundaries and attracts the best and brightest to Berkeley. Our new department will allow us to reach the next level in understanding how the brain works, how to design adaptive equipment, and how to treat neurodegenerative diseases to humanity’s great benefit.


Michael Botchan

Michael Botchan, Ph.D.
Dean, Division of Biological Sciences