Acclaimed Neuroscientist Korn to Lecture At UB

Release Date: October 13, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Henri Korn is a French neurobiologist of international reputation known for his intellectual passion, deep knowledge of American culture and his accomplishments in both neuroscience and the humanities.

For many years a visiting research professor at the University of Buffalo, Korn is director of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He will return to UB on Oct. 20 to present the 1998 Samuel P. Capen Lecture in the Humanities, the major humanities lectureship at UB.

His talk, "Society and the Scientific Imagination," will take place at 4 p.m. in the Screening Room in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. It will be free and open to the public.

Although his principal research is in synaptic transmission and the functional organization of the central nervous system, Korn also is a longtime serious student of philosophy and literature who in recent years has become increasingly concerned with the interplay between scientific and humanistic inquiry.

In his lecture, Korn will reflect his broader concerns in addressing a number of provocative issues: How scientific imagination "works," the role of metaphor in scientific inquiry and in talking about scientific work, the role of probability and chaos theory in brain science, and how notions of predictability and free will held by scientists and humanities scholars are changing and how their inquiries inform one another.

The Capen lecture is sponsored by the Samuel P. Capen Chair in the Humanities, held by Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of English, and co-sponsored by the Melodia Jones Chair in French, held by Raymond Federman, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of English.

Jackson describes Korn as "a true intellectual, a man with a relentless passion for inquiry into and discussion of ideas.

"His knowledge of American culture is profound," Jackson said, "not just because he is a passionate reader or because of the many years he lived in the United States while doing research at UB and the Albert Einsten Medical Center. It's also because he has traveled widely and has an uncanny ability to get ordinary people to take him into their lives and let him see what they're really about."

Although his research at Pasteur focuses on the way the nerves "talk" to each other, he sees scientific inquiry not as a realm apart, but as part of the world of ideas and society, which, Jackson said, was why he was invited to give this lecture.

Korn received medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Paris. From 1991-93, he was scientific advisor to French Secretary of Defense Pierre Joxe. In 1992, he was awarded the Richard Lounsbery Prize by the National Academy of Science and the Académie des Sciences.

He was elected to the Academia Europaea (1989), the French Academy of Sciences (1990) and the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (1995). He is a member of the European Community-United States Steering Committee on Neuroinformatics, which promotes interactions and exchanges between neuroscientists, computer scientists, the EC Evaluation Committee of Research Proposals in the Neurosciences and the Comité 200 of the French Academy of Sciences.

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