Appointment of Dr. Nathan Urban

June 16, 2015

University Community

Patricia E. Beeson, PhD
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Arthur S. Levine, MD
Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences
John and Gertrude Petersen Dean, School of Medicine

Peter L. Strick, PhD
Thomas Detre Professor and Chair of Neurobiology, School of Medicine
Scientific Director, University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute
Director, Systems Neuroscience Institute

Dear Colleagues:

We are very pleased to announce that Nathan Urban, PhD, will be joining the University of Pittsburgh on August 1 as a faculty member in the School of Medicine and as Vice Provost for Special Projects. Urban comes to the University of Pittsburgh from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where he was the Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences and where he served as head of the Department of Biological Sciences (2011-2014), founding director of Carnegie Mellon's BrainHub initiative (2014-2015), and interim provost (2014-2015).
Urban (CAS 1991 and FAS 1998) is a distinguished neuroscientist who will become Associate Director of Pitt's Brain Institute and Pitt-side Co-Director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). The CNBC is a joint program with CMU. The center has a 20-year history of successfully promoting collaboration between Pitt and CMU in the area of cognitive neuroscience training and research. Urban's experience at CMU will be especially valuable in supporting the CNBC's goal of seamless interactions between the two institutions. In his role in the provost's office, Urban will be involved in supporting the development and promotion of University-wide strategic initiatives in neuroscience research and education.
“In Nathan, we have recruited an outstanding scientist and an especially able administrator," said Peter Strick, PhD, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute and Detre Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology. "He will be a wonderful addition to the neuroscience community at Pitt.”
“I am delighted that Nathan will be returning to Pitt in his new roles,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia Beeson. “His achievements as a scholar, scientist, and administrator will enable him to develop and gain support for University-wide strategic initiatives that strengthen our academic programs and deepen the University’s impact through research and education. I look forward to working closely with him to achieve these goals.”
"Dr. Urban is a person of exceptional intellect, imagination, and wisdom, deeply invested in leadership as well," said Arthur Levine, MD, Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. "He is one of this university's most accomplished alumni, and I know that he drew on great reserves of loyalty, thought, and feeling, over many hours, in determining what would be best for this turning point in his luminous career. As reflected in his several areas of responsibility, both at Carnegie Mellon and now here, his academic reach is broad and deep."
Urban noted that he sees tremendous opportunities for Pitt to play an even stronger leadership role in higher education. "Pitt's rapid rise in reputation and rankings in the past decades is a testament to the vision and dedication of its faculty, staff, and leadership, and to the tremendously talented students who have come here to be educated and trained," he said. "I hope to play a role both in enabling Pitt students and faculty to attain even higher levels of excellence and in getting the word out to the world about the quality and quantity of work that is happening at Pitt. I am especially excited to be able to do this at the institution that provided me the foundation that has served as the basis of the success that I have had in my own career. I also very much look forward to continuing to work with my many CMU colleagues to strengthen the connections between our two universities in partnerships that serve our institutions and our region."
Urban has been the recipient of numerous awards in his career, including being named a Rhodes Scholar as a Pitt undergraduate, one of the 50 leaders in Science and Technology by Scientific American in 2005, and a recipient of a Pitt 225th anniversary medallion in 2013. His research, which involves physiological and computational analysis of the function of neural circuits, has been supported by a number of federal and private sources including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Human Frontiers Science Program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Urban to our University community.