Message from the Director

Kang Shen

Institute Director Kang Shenreflected on the accomplishments of the institute in his introduction to our 2021–22 Annual Report.

Download the report here.

February 2023

Dear Colleagues, 

What a year of change this has been.

Most momentous of these changes was thanking our founding director, Bill Newsome, for his decade of service to Wu Tsai Neuro. Bill was instrumental in conceiving of our interdisciplinary mission and building this community from the ground up. Happily, as emeritus director, Bill continues to be a great source of wisdom and guidance to all of us here at the institute.

This year we also bid a fond farewell to our founding executive director, Tanya Raschke, who was for many years the engine that turned the dreams of the institute into a reality. We were fortunate to have Jill Wentzell as the new Executive Director, and she and I are working closely together to plan the next phase for the institute.

For my part, it has been an honor to step into the role of Institute director, and I have spent the past months getting to know our diverse and innovative community. I am grateful for the institutional knowledge and wisdom our dedicated Executive Committee — Marion Buckwalter, Rob Malenka, Alison Okamura, and Anthony Wagner — for their insights into the culture and mission of the Institute.

Of course, I am not the only new face here at the institute. This year we supported a new round Neuroscience:Translate research teams aiming to advance the clinical impact of our work. We added dozens of interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduates to our growing cohort of trainees that will make up the next generation of neuroscience. We welcomed the Baumer, Fox, Gardner, Keller, and Poston labs to the Stanford Neurosciences Building. And our community laboratories have continued to expand and welcome new researchers to take advantage of these shared facilities and technologies.

We also reunited our community in venues large and small as the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic finally receded. In addition to regular happy hours organized in partnership with our Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, Equity and Justice committee, we held an exuberant and stimulating scientific retreat in Santa Cruz — the first time in four years we have been able to bring our community together in this way.  We sent a delegation to the Society for Neuroscience meeting to highlight the impact of the Institute’s programs — in particular our community laboratories and service centers.

This Fall’s Symposium, entitled “Remembering the Past – Imagining the Future” brought our scientific community together in full force to examine the science of memory and the promising future of combating age-related memory loss. I thank Anthony Wagner for his leadership of the planning committee.

Our Symposium also celebrated another exciting new transformation: the launch in the Spring of the Phil and Penny Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience, housed here at Wu Tsai Neuro. Supported by an extraordinarily generous gift from Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny, and led by my colleague and friend Tony Wyss-Coray, this ambitious scientific endeavor aims to build a new science of brain aging and identify approaches to extend the healthy lifespan of the human brain.

Next year’s Symposium will celebrate the institute’s 10th birthday with a look back at the remarkable community and scientific impact that the institute has cultivated since its founding in October 2013. I look forward to seeing you all there as we look forward to the next 10 years of Wu Tsai Neuro.


Kang Shen

Vincent V. C. Woo Director

Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute