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Prominent Neuroscientist Prof. Tom Jessell Fired Following Investigation

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Prof. Thomas Jessell, 66, who holds an endowed Chair as the Claire Tow Professor of Motor Neuron Disorders at the Zuckerman Institute for Mind Brain and Behavior at Columbia University, has had his employment terminated.

Jessell is an award winning neuroscientist, fellow of the Royal Society and inaugural recipient of the Kavli Prize for Neuroscience in 2008. His influential textbook, "Principles of Neuroscience" co-written with Prof. Eric Kandel and Dr James Schwarz, sits on the shelves of most neuroscience students across the World.

His pioneering work on motor neurons have driven our understandings of how our brains control movement.

Read: Latest paper from Jessell lab investigates balance

However, on International Women's Day, March 8, 2018, the closure of his lab was announced in the international media.

The statement from Columbia was printed in a piece by Meredith Wadman in the journal Science:

"Columbia has ended the administrative positions of Dr. Thomas Jessell and will be winding down the Jessell lab at [Columbia University Medical Center]. These decisions follow an investigation that revealed serious violations of University policies and values governing the behavior of faculty members in an academic environment. The University will fulfill its responsibility to close the lab in a manner that both preserves valuable research and helps those involved to continue to pursue their careers. Dr. Jessell has been out of the lab since the investigation began."

The opaque nature of the statement has led to people on social media to call for transparency about the nature of these violations.

Whatever the reasons or "serious violations", the news of the dismissal comes as a shock to the world of neuroscience. 

Meet the Author
Adam Tozer PhD
Adam Tozer PhD
Science Writer