University of California, San FranciscoKavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience

Building cross-disciplinary teams of scientists and engineers to tackle the hardest problems in neuroscience

The Kavli IFN aims to push the boundaries of interdisciplinary research to make breakthrough discoveries. It has established direct linkages between neuroscientists at UCSF and engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop transformative brain research tools. Its neuroscientists also collaborate with the University of California Quantitative Biology Institute (QB3), where scientists use physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering to makes sense of complex biological systems.

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Graeme Davis

Director, Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience


  • NEUROPLASTICITY: Kavli IFN scientists investigate the brain’s extraordinary ability to change over time. How are plasticity and stability established? How is their balance maintained throughout our lifetime? And, importantly, how does that plasticity enable us to adapt our behavior?
  • DEVELOPMENT: There are many different types of cells in the brain and broader nervous system, each with a distinct pattern of gene expression and a distinct connectivity to and interactions with other cell types. And there are likely many more yet to be discovered. How each of these cell types is specified and how they are all wired together remain central and unsolved problems in neuroscience.
  • CIRCUITS: The cellular mechanisms of brain plasticity give rise to brain circuits that are also stable but adaptable. These circuits must retain the architecture that allows them to interpret and act on sensory information while simultaneously changing to store information about new experiences and to use that information to guide behavior. How circuits balance stability and plasticity and how different cellular processes contribute to circuit-level adaptability remains a central mystery.

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At Kavli Institutes around the world, scientists explore the frontiers of science in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics.

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