Rui Costa is director and chief executive officer of Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and a professor of neuroscience and neurology at Columbia's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. In his role Dr. Costa is responsible for the administrative, financial and scientific management of the Institute. Prior to being named director, he served as associate director and CEO of the Zuckerman Institute from 2017-2019. Dr. Costa has substantial experience in institutional leadership for neuroscience research. Prior to joining Columbia in 2016, he was Director of Research at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal.
Dr. Costa is an expert in movement and behavior in health and in disease. To gain insight into these brain processes, he has developed powerful new approaches and methodologies that harness genetics, cutting-edge imaging technology and brain-machine interfaces. Using these tools, his laboratory recently identified the mechanism by which the brain initiates a movement, such as taking a first step. Because problems with movement initiation are a hallmark sign of Parkinson’s disease, deciphering how this process goes awry in Parkinson’s is critical for developing more effective treatments. Dr. Costa’s research has also shed light on how the brain combines distinct movements into a seamless sequence, called ‘action chunking.’ These investigations have led to a deeper understanding of how the brain learns to repeat movements that elicit a feeling of pleasure, while also providing insight into psychiatric disorders characterized by compulsive or repetitive movements and actions, such as autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Dr. Costa was an International Early Career Scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2012-2017. In 2017, he was awarded the Ariëns Kappers Award from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences for his contributions to the field of neuroscience. In 2014, Dr. Costa was knighted Commander of the Order of Sant'Iago da Espada by the President of Portugal. In 2014, he also received the Young Investigator Award from the Fondation Louis-Jeantet and in 2012 from the Society for Neuroscience.
As Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Farris directs the Zuckerman Institute’s administrative operation, working closely with the Institute's scientific leadership to reinforce strategic goals and long-term success. In this role, Farris is the senior administrative officer representing the Institute within Columbia’s administrative organization.
Farris has deep expertise in customer service, project management and operational effectiveness. She also has an abiding commitment to scientific discovery and research. Before joining Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, Farris held multiple leadership roles at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). After 15 years in the hospitality industry, Farris joined HHMI to launch the campus services operation at the Janelia Research Campus. Over the course of 12 years, Farris’ role continually expanded. Most recently, she served as HHMI’s Chief Administrative Officer where her role included administrative oversight of 15 remote science operations offices that supported activities for over 300 principal investigators and their research laboratories across the country.
Farris is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she holds a BA in English and History.
Paige Lyne and her team are financially responsible for the Institute and associated faculty members and laboratories. This includes management of the Institute’s annual budget and review of accounts. Her team assists Institute researchers with all grant-related activities, including budget development and administrative requirements, as well as pre- and post-award activities.
Before joining the Zuckerman Institute, Paige served in the finance departments at Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Mailman School for Public Health, Columbia’s Center for the Study of Science & Religion and the Earth Institute. Prior to Columbia, she was a volunteer teacher in South Africa and worked at America’s Promise, a youth & community development nonprofit in Washington, DC. Paige received her bachelor’s in History from Georgetown University and an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business.
Lorraine Smith directs all Human Resources and Academic Appointments at the Zuckerman Institute.
In her role, Lorraine partners with University colleagues and Zuckerman Institute scientific and administrative leadership to implement strategies and streamline operations to meet the professional needs of the Institute’s research labs, scientists and administrative staff.
Lorraine has worked at Columbia University for 15 years, most recently serving as Senior Executive Director of Human Resources and Academic Affairs at Columbia Business School. Prior to her role at the Business School, she led human resources at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and before that, worked on marketing initiatives at New York Hospital. Lorraine holds a Master's degree in Social Work from NYU, a Bachelor's in Management from Pace University, and earned a Certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia Business School.
The Zuckerman Institute Communications team is dedicated to sharing the extraordinary research and discoveries at the Institute with broad audiences. Amy Weil manages the creation of tailored communications strategies that explore and explain the Institute’s groundbreaking science. Amy and her team work closely with Institute scientists and staff to create written content and multimedia, including videos and infographics, to convey the urgency and excitement of the brain science research at the Institute.
Amy joined Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute from George Soros’s global philanthropy, where she partnered with people and non-profits around the world to promote human rights and social justice. Prior to this, Amy worked at the national headquarters of the American Civil Liberties Union and helped implement national news campaigns to promote racial justice, LGBTQ rights, drug policy reform and other civil liberties issues.
Barbara Han is responsible for delivering a comprehensive facility service model to all faculty and staff at the Zuckerman Institute. She and her team serve as direct liaisons between researchers and departments across Columbia University to support a smooth and proficiently operated scientific research facility.
Prior to joining the Institute, Han spent 29 years as the laboratory manager at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She has also spent nearly 20 years supervising the construction and renovation of lab spaces within Columbia University Medical Center. She received her bachelor’s in medical laboratory sciences from Hunter College School of Health Sciences and possesses two masters degrees; an MBA from Fordham University’s School of Business and an MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
As Director of Team Science and Scientific Director of Cellular Imaging at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, Darcy Peterka offers a combination of both commercial systems and creates collaborative, custom-designed advanced imaging platforms to spur innovative research.
Prior to joining the Zuckerman Institute, Dr. Peterka was Director of Technologies at Columbia’s NeuroTechnology Center, and a research scientist with Rafael Yuste. He spent many years at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, received a PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, and holds a BA in Mathematics from Cornell University.
Tanya Tabachnik’s department creates new technologies that marry imagination and engineering in order to empower scientists to answer fundamental questions about living systems and how the brain works. Her hand-picked team designs and develops solutions that are elegant, efficient and cost-effective. She and her team have built everything from a device that maps the steps of a fruit fly to materials that function inside the brain without harming it. Bringing to life new tools that drive cutting-edge research requires more than clever engineering. Her team's innovations start with the close relationships being built with clients. They have experience translating the needs of researchers and shaping their dreams into workable plans for success.
Tanya comes to the Zuckerman Institute from Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where she led and managed the Mechanical Engineering and Fabrication Department. In that capacity, she and her team designed and customized scientific instruments and tools for neuroscience research. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering from Moscow State Technological University.