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Campus-wide celebration marks President Emeritus Torsten N. Wiesel’s 100th Birthday

Torsten N. Wiesel and Rockefeller Heads of Lab

Torsten N. Wiesel and Rockefeller Heads of Lab

Torsten N. Wiesel is known across the world for revolutionizing how scientists understand the structure, function, and development of the brain. But on Rockefeller’s leafy campus, he’s also widely known as a warm and collegial community member and friend. In his usual spirit of conviviality, Wiesel, who joined Rockefeller in 1983 and served as the university’s president from 1992 to 1998, celebrated his 100th birthday during a toast and tea open to the campus. Richard P. Lifton, the university’s current president, hosted the event in Rockefeller’s Markus Library on June 3.

“I just want to say on behalf of the university—we’re so fortunate to be able to celebrate you today and commemorate your incredible contribution to science, to medicine, to community, and to society,” said Lifton.  “We all hold you in our hearts, and are thrilled that you’re with us today to celebrate this wonderful occasion.”

Over 200 community members gathered at the library. All were invited to submit greetings, stories, and photographs to be compiled into a commemorative birthday album.

“Torsten’s impact on science has been extraordinary, across so many levels,” said Cori Bargmann, who is Rockefeller’s Torsten N. Wiesel Professor, vice president for Academic Affairs, and the head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior. “His experiments on the visual system are the foundation of all systems neuroscience.”

But Wiesel is more than a leader in his field, Bargmann noted. He showed remarkable leadership at Rockefeller during his presidency, which included longstanding mentorship of scientists across a broad range of fields, and was greatly involved in scientific diplomacy through a variety of organizations aimed at increasing collaborative international research.

“It’s awe-inspiring,” added Bargmann.

Guests also viewed a new exhibit about Weisel’s life and scientific breakthroughs, curated by Olga Stepanek, university librarian. Select images are included below.