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World-renowned neuroscientist Christof Koch, Ph.D. joins the Allen Institute for Brain Science as Chief Scientific Officer

Koch to help expand and refine the scientific agenda for the Allen Institute's large-scale efforts

March 22, 2011 | Download PDF

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, a nonprofit medical research organization dedicated to advancing understanding of the human brain, has appointed world-renowned neuroscientist Christof Koch, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Koch joins the Allen Institute after a 25-year tenure at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he established himself as a recognized expert in the fields of biophysics, neural computation and neural systems.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have someone of this caliber directing our scientific efforts," said Allan Jones, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. "Dr. Koch will be a tremendous asset as we expand beyond our historic focus on gene expression and into the circuitry and coding of information in the brain. The depth and breadth of his scientific expertise, particularly in neural coding and neural systems, will be invaluable as we drive forward new initiatives to benefit brain research programs around the world."

As Chief Scientific Officer, Koch will oversee the Allen Institute's research departments and shape the agenda of its large-scale initiatives. Since its first public data release in 2004, the Allen Institute has generated a growing collection of online public gene maps of the brain widely used by the global research community. With the appointment of Dr. Koch, the Institute plans to build on these resources with future work in the direction of systems biology, neural circuitry and information coding in the brain.

"The Allen Institute has had a truly transformational impact on neuroscience research," said Dr. Koch. "From my years as a scientific advisor to the Institute, I know what goes into delivering on its big science programs. I am honored and excited to join the team and help move these remarkable efforts toward systems-level neuroscience."

For the past 25 years, Dr. Koch has served on the faculty at Caltech, most recently as Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive & Behavioral Biology. His research program has addressed scientific questions using a widely multi-disciplinary approach. His interests include elucidating the biophysical mechanisms underlying neural computation, understanding the mechanisms and purpose of visual attention and exploring the neural basis of consciousness and the subjective mind – work he did over 16 years in collaboration with the late Francis Crick. Upon moving to Seattle, Washington to begin his tenure at the Allen Institute, Koch will maintain a part-time appointment and laboratory at Caltech.

Dr. Koch brings to the Allen Institute extensive research and leadership experience, including serving as Director of the Broad Fellows Program in Brain Circuitry, Executive Officer of Computation and Neural Systems program at Caltech, and running his own research program. As an integral member of the Allen Institute's Scientific Advisory Board and Allen Human Brain Atlas Advisory Council, he has played a key role in guiding the organization's large-scale initiatives to develop wide-reaching, high-value public resources for the global scientific community.

The Allen Institute for Brain Science sought a Chief Scientific Officer as part of an overarching expansion plan that includes the promotion last year of the Allen Institute's previous CSO, Allan Jones, Ph.D., to Chief Executive Officer, the recent addition of approximately 10,000 square feet of space, and an active hiring program to expand its staff to support its scientific initiatives.