Department of Neurobiology


John Assad

Professor of Neurobiology

I did my PhD at Harvard with David Corey, on biophysical mechanisms of mechano-electrical transduction in hair cells, and my postdoc at Baylor College of Medicine with John Maunsell, on higher order visual processing in primate parietal cortex. In my lab at Harvard, we worked for many years with non-human primates on a wide variety of questions, including neuronal mechanisms of attention, inference and flexible coding in parietal cortex, economic decision making in orbitofontal cortex, and movement initiation in the basal ganglia-thalamic-cortical circuits. A few years ago, we switched to mice, to take advantage of the incredible genetic tools available in that species. We are mainly focusing now on neuronal mechanisms of self-initiated or self-timed movements, which provide a fascinating window into the mechanisms of voluntary movements, as well as movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. We use a combination of electrophysiological, behavioral, optical and computational approaches.

I am also currently director of the PhD Program in Neuroscience at Harvard. One last thing -- GO BILLS!!

Omkar Ghenand

Undergraduate Research Intern

currently rising senior at MIT

Allison Hamilos


BS MIT; MD/PhD, Harvard. Project on role of endogenous midbrain dopamine neuron activity in self-timed movements. 

Lingfeng Hou


BS, Tsinghua Univ, China. Project on role of substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNR) in self-timed movements, and striatal contributions to SNR activity

Spencer "Lake" Jacobs-Skolik

Research Assistant/Engineer

B.S., Northeastern Univ.

Jabari McGinnis

Postbac (PiNBAC program), "shared" with Sabatini lab

BS, Morehouse College. Project on cortical and subcortical contributions to voluntary movement. 

Eden Sayed

PhD Student

BS, UCLA. Doing a dual PhD in Philosophy and Neuroscience. Project on discovering the fundamental mechanisms of initiating movement. 


Mehdi Aghdaee
Antonino Casile
Daniel Chicharro
John Elfar
Emad Eskandar
Alessandra Fanini
Jamie Fitzgerald
David Freedman
Todd Herrington
Ye (Mary) Hong
Kim Irwin
Irwin Lee
Gaby Maimon
Giulia MIceli
Joe Neimat
Camillo Padoa-Schioppa
Atomu Sawatari
Aaron Seitz
Giuila Spedicato
Mélie Talaron
Louis Toth
Ziv Williams