Leading From the Lab: Zuckerman Institute’s Thomas Jessell

February 24, 2014

Ask Thomas Jessell why he has dedicated his career to understanding the neurobiology of movement, and he puts it in simple terms: “Movement is the overt expression of all behaviors—without movement, intent and desire can be planned and felt but never realized.” Whether it’s the pumping heart or a flashing grin, movement is the culmination of all brain and nervous system activity. “In essence, the nervous system performs one major task,” explains Jessell, the Claire Tow Professor of Neuroscience and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics as well as co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. “It converts information extracted from the sensory world, or stored within, into purposeful action through the programmed contraction of muscles.”