The Cortex Club connects researchers at the University of Oxford with world-leading neuroscientists through a unique educational forum dealing with cutting-edge topics and significant challenges in neuroscience. Their events range from small intense debates with up-and-coming scientists to large discussion sessions led by internationally prominent speakers, followed by the opportunity to ask them questions over drinks.
On Tuesday 7 May 2019, Cortex Club Committee members held a birthday party at DPAG's Sherrington Library to celebrate the history and successes of the club. The event was kickstarted with an introduction from its founding senior member, Professor Zoltán Molnár, entitled 'Cortex Club; The first ten years'.
The Club was established in May 2009 by a group of Oxford neuroscience DPhil students spearheaded by Abhishek Banerjee (former Paulsen Laboratory) and Dennis Kätzel (Miesenböck Laboratory). To become an official University of Oxford club, the students needed to register with the Proctors under the sponsorship of a senior academic. The founding committee selected DPAG's Professor Zoltán Molnár, who has served the Club as founding senior member for the last decade.
The Cortex Club is organised by Students and Postdoctoral Research Scientists. However, it is open to the entire academic community from undergraduates to professors and now attracts large and enthusiastic audiences with a mailing list of over 1000 members.
Generations of Cortex Club Committees improved the formula over the years and The Cortex Club developed into a unique educational forum that has an excellent reputation.
- Professor Zoltán Molnár
The talk topics selected are cutting-edge and challenging issues in neuroscience, such as rate coding versus temporal coding, protomap or protocortex of cortical specialization, utility of various animal models for neuroscience and even philosophy, art or even history of neuroscience. The events are designed to deal with advanced topics in neuroscience in an informal and speculative manner. Undergraduates, MSc and DPhil students join the events together with postdoctoral fellows and faculty. The format ranges from smaller intense debates to large symposia with capacity audiences lead by internationally prominent speakers.
The concept of a student-run independent discussion forum for neuroscience at Oxford, which Dennis and Abishek envisaged ten years ago, remains the success formula of the Cortex Club today. While we're honoured to regularly host talks and discussions with world-leading scientists, our small and interactive formats of student Q&As, workshops and talks by 'emerging scientists' are equally important to us. - Dr Lukas Krone, Cortex Club Co-president
As former presidents and committee members left Oxford for postdoctoral or faculty positions, they set up new Cortex Clubs around the World. There are now Cortex Clubs at University of Toronto, University of Cape Town and University of the Witwatersrand at Johannesburg, South Africa. On the Club's 10th birthday, the newly founded Cortex Clubs in South Africa sent special happy birthday messages to their older brother at Oxford:
Following Zoltán's introduction, the two original founding student members gave talks about their current research work. Dr Abhishek Banerjee delivered a talk entitled 'Probing neural dynamics of adaptive decision-making in health and brain disorders' and Dr Dennis Kätzel delivered a talk entitled 'What to model and what to measure - searching for ground truth in translational psychiatry'.
Thank you Cortex Club and committee members for organising such a wonderful 10th birthday of the Club. I am enormously grateful for all your effort and enthusiastic engagement for the Cortex Club and Neuroscience in general. The Club has grown into so much more than I could ever have hoped for or imagined. I hope that it will continue to guide aspiring graduate students and postdocs as to which path to choose in their own scientific inquiry. - Dr Dennis Kätzel
Thank you Cortex Club for a wonderful experience back in Oxford. You have come a long way, congratulations on your 10th birthday. My sincere thanks to all previous committee members and best wishes for the future. Thank you for great memories. - Dr Abhishek Banerjee
The current presidents of the Cortex Club are DPAG DPhil students Lukas Krone and Tai-Ying Lee. One of their main goals for the future is to share some of the inspiring discussions they have at the Cortex Club with both students and the general public around the globe. As part of that, they had the pleasure to host the launch of a new podcast series called "CortexCast":
It was amazing to celebrate the Cortex Club's 10th Birthday with not only the current Oxford neuroscience community, but also the three founding members and our "sister" Cortex Clubs in Cape Town and Johannesburg. We were also pleased to release our birthday present - CortexCast, a podcast series interviewing our guest speakers about their research and career journey, organised by Alexander Von Klemperer, Samuel Picard and Paula Kaanders. - Tai-Ying Lee, Cortex Club Co-president
The talks were followed by a drinks reception and birthday social in the CCMN (formerly OCGF) Seminar Room with DJs from across the University.