Systems neuroscience refers to the study of how networks of nerve cells are organized and operate to produce behavior.

The McDonnell Center was established in 2007 through a gift from James S. McDonnell III, John F. McDonnell, and the JSM Charitable Trust (see related story). James McDonnell III, a former University trustee, is a member of Princeton's class of 1958; John McDonnell is a member of the class of 1960.

Together, the brothers have been among Princeton's most generous donors. Their many gifts to the University include two given in honor of their late father, James S. McDonnell '21, a pioneer of the American aerospace industry: James S. McDonnell Hall, a building for teaching physics; and six James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professorships.

Their support of the McDonnell Center includes funding advanced technology in systems neuroscience and establishing an endowment to support the highly trained specialists needed to run it. It also provides an endowed fund for innovation in systems neuroscience, creates graduate fellowships, and provides for a new systems neuroscience teaching laboratory.


McDonnell Center Shared Instruments Facility

  • A Leica confocal microscope equipped with a white light laser and Hybrid detectors.
  • A Leica Stereo fluorescent microscope for large sample screenings
  • Two Hamamatsu Nanozoomers (Automatized epifluorescent slide scanners)
  • A Biovision Ultramicroscope Light Sheet microscope
  • A SmartSPIM Light Sheet microscope from LifeCanvas
  • An Image Analysis workstation equipped with Imaris and Huygens software.
  • Two Zeiss Scanning Electron microscopes.

Viral Core Facility

Viral Core Facility: has two inverted and one conventional fluorescent microscope in place. Two of the scopes are equipped with a CoolSNAP MYO and Infinity3 high resolution, high sensitivity cameras to image fluorescent viral capsids or sub-cellular components. The cameras are connected to a PC and operated through the Nikon NIS-Elements and Infinity Capture software for data acquisition and quantitative analysis. Four BSL2 tissue culture hoods, cell incubators and inverted epifluorescence microscopes, conventional and real time PCR machines, shakers, electroporators, incubators, gel doc imaging device for epifluorescence, UV and chemoluminescent substrates, NanoDrop spectrophotometer, a LiCor Odyssey imaging system and an Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer, refrigerated ultracentrifuge and a supercentrifuge with a variety of rotors, dedicated -80C freezer.