They will have the honor of being taught by Oliver Sacks. The New York Times reports that the neurologist and writer has accepted a position as Professor of clinical neurology and clinical psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The university is also giving him the title of “Columbia Artist,” a newly created position. The Times says:
The new appointment will allow Dr. Sacks, the author of 10 books and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, to range freely across Columbia’s departments, teaching, giving public lectures, conducting seminars, seeing patients and collaborating with other faculty members. Many of the details of his appointment have yet to be worked out, but among other things, he will be teaching in the university’s creative writing department as well as at the medical school.
As someone who is just beginning the medical school application process, the prospect of having Dr. Sacks as a teacher puts Columbia very high on my list. Apparently his appointment is part of a broader initiative to promote interdisciplinary study:
Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia, said Dr. Sacks’s appointment exemplified the university’s effort to bridge the gap between the study of neuroscience and other disciplines in which scholars work to understand human behavior, including economics, law and art history…The university has committed $20 million to expanding the study of neuroscience to include an interdisciplinary approach, and last year it received a donation worth more than $200 million from Dawn M. Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation to build a new center to house the university’s Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative, which will help apply neuroscience to multiple areas of scholarship.