September 8, 2020

Dr. Peter MacLeish, who served as the founding Director of the MSM Neuroscience Institute and the founding Chair of the MSM Department of Neurobiology, earned his PhD here in the HMS Department of Neurobiology in the labs of the late Edwin Furshpan and David Potter and completed postdoctoral work in the Department with Torsten Wiesel. Drs. Furshpan and Potter, who were both fiercely passionate about education and increasing diversity in medicine, taught a Principles of Neurobiology course to MSM students and undergraduate students at Morehouse College for ten years. In addition, faculty members from HMS Neurobiology and the Harvard PhD Program in Neuroscience (PiN) have served on the External Advisory Board for the MSM Neuroscience Institute over the years.

Peter was in attendance at the Department’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in fall of 2016 and through conversations with HMS Neurobiology Professor Roz Segal a new chapter in the collaboration between our institutions was conceptualized. As then-Director of PiN, Roz spearheaded the creation of a two week summer program for rising Master’s students in the MSM B.S./M.S. Program in Neuroscience to visit Boston and participate in the “MATLAB Bootcamp” course co-taught by Rick Born alongside first-year PhD students in PiN. This program, which began in 2017, has received generous support from Department Chair Mike Greenberg and members of the Department administrative team. (A special shoutout to May Corrigan for all of her help coordinating cost sharing across institutions!) Mike and Roz, as well as Neurobiology faculty members Tom Schwarz, Rachel Wilson, and Lisa Goodrich, have hosted visiting B.S./M.S. students in their own homes for part of the program and many Faculty and students have played other critical roles in the success of the program to date. 

Having secured additional funding from the Simons Foundation and the HMS Dean’s Innovation Awards, Roz, Peter, myself, and Dr. Morris Benveniste at MSM have begun expanding upon this revitalized collaboration between HMS and MSM to more fully realize our vision of robust trans-institutional educational and research partnerships in Neuroscience. For example, earlier this summer Dr. Aurelien Begue, Scientific Director for the Neurobiology Imaging Facility, co-taught a nanocourse on Fluorescent Light-Sheet Microscopy with MSM faculty member Jason DeBruyne. Professor Chenghua Gu also taught in the course. We also held our inaugural “Faculty Chat” for students with PiN Director John Assad and Morris Benveniste, Director of the MSM BS/MS Program. We hope to offer much more programming like this under the banner of our MAHPING collaboration (Morehouse And Harvard Partnership in Neuroscience Growth). While we are currently restricted in our ability to travel, we intend to fund HMS students, postdocs, and faculty to visit MSM (and vice versa) to give seminars, co-teach courses, and build research collaborations in the near future. We are also working with our MSM colleagues to strategize about student recruitment into the B.S./M.S. Program and the successful transition of graduates into PhD and MD programs.

On behalf of the entire MAHPING team, thank you to everyone in this community who has participated (or who has expressed interest in participating) in this unique partnership. We are all so grateful for the legacy of service and partnership between our institutions and are excited to see what the next chapter holds.