Chuck Vest has been a tremendous force in establishing the brain and cognitive sciences at MIT,” says Robert Silbey, MIT’s dean of science, adding that thanks to Vest, MIT will soon have a pioneering neuroscience research facility that might one day provide solutions for devastating mental illnesses.
Soon-to-be-built on campus is the 410,000-square-foot Brain and Cognitive Sciences Project, a state-of-the art facility that will bring together under one roof the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the Picower Center for Learning and Memory — both established under Vest’s leadership — and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
“Having people together in a pleasant environment with the best resources amplifies research and makes cross-disciplinary work much more possible. We believe that now is the time to take our strengths in biology, neuroscience, cognitive science and computer science and bring them together to understand the brain and to solve these most challenging problems,” Silbey says, adding that neuroscience is among the most profound and significant scientific ventures of the century.
In the future, he adds, we will understand the causes of depression, schizophrenia, autism, or Alzheimer’s disease and can expect revolutionary treatments. And one day, we might even develop ways to prevent them. “Because the tools and the understanding is growing so rapidly,” he says, “I have no qualms about predicting that in 10 years MIT scientists will have done some great things.
“Chuck Vest played an enormous role in expanding the brain and cognitive sciences at MIT. He was a leader in prodding faculty and students to work together and was a leader in providing the resources to do it. Not only did he get behind the idea himself, but he got faculty and students behind it too. He was a constant voice explaining to us, and to the world, why this work is so important. He has been a real champion in making this research happen.”