Columbia University on Wednesday removed a top neuroscientist from his posts and announced plans to dissolve his lab after an internal investigation uncovered violations of “university policies and values.”
The scientist, Thomas Jessell, a professor of biochemistry, biophysics and neuroscience, is one of the world’s foremost researchers into the basic biology of brain cells. His work at Columbia focused on how sensory and motor neurons coordinate movements.
Dr. Jessell, 66, was a winner of the prestigious Kavli Prize for Neuroscience in 2008 and has been a fellow of the Royal Society of London since 1996. He was a director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science and a director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Initiative, both at Columbia.
In a statement, Columbia said that it “has ended the administrative positions of Dr. Thomas Jessell and will be winding down the Jessell lab.”
The decision followed “an investigation that revealed serious violations of university policies and values governing the behavior of faculty members in an academic environment,” the statement said.
The university said it would preserve the lab’s research and help those employed — about 25 people, including graduate and postdoctoral students — to continue their careers.
Officials declined to describe the nature of Dr. Jessell’s violations and said he had been “out of the lab since the investigation began.”
Dr. Jessell did not immediately respond to an email message late Wednesday.
According to a brief biography online, Dr. Jessell completed his Ph.D. in neuroscience at Cambridge University and later worked as a researcher at Harvard Medical School. He became an assistant professor in the neurobiology department at Harvard Medical School in 1981, and joined Columbia in 1985.