Sean Escola


I am interested in computational neuroscience, AI, psychiatry, and entrepreneurship.

I am an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who studies how natural intelligence can inform artificial intelligence, specifically by examining the neural circuit computations that underlie motor control and learning. I also study neural network theory and the circuit mechanisms underlying psychopathology.

I have co-founded two companies and one non-profit:

  1. Fauna Robotics is an embodied AI company that builds highly agile, dexterous, natural language-capable consumer-facing companion robots. I helped raise Fauna’s seed financing in January 2024 and set vision for the company.
  2. Herophilus is a biotechnology company that combined patient-derived stem cell cultures (“organoids”) with advanced neuroassays and machine learning for drug discovery. As founding CEO in 2017–2020, I raised $30M in venture financing and hired a team of >40 scientists. Herophilus’s technology was sold to Genentech in 2023.
  3. Neuromatch is a worldwide 501(c)3 non-profit that is democratizing science by providing high quality education, targeted interactions, career support, and open publishing with zero financial barrier to entry for all. I raised $2M in philanthropy for initial operating capital in 2020–2021 and I served on the Board of Directors (2020–2024).

I am a clinical psychiatrist and I see adult patients for medication management and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

latest posts

selected publications

  1. Cell Reports
    Specific connectivity optimizes learning in thalamocortical loops
    Kaushik J Lakshminarasimhan, Marjorie Xie, Jeremy D Cohen, and 4 more authors
    Cell Reports, 2024
  2. bioRxiv
    Motor cortex is required for flexible but not automatic motor sequences
    Kevin GC Mizes, Jack Lindsey, G Sean Escola, and 1 more author
    bioRxiv, 2023
  3. Nat Neuro
    Dissociating the contributions of sensorimotor striatum to automatic and visually guided motor sequences
    Kevin GC Mizes, Jack Lindsey, G Sean Escola, and 1 more author
    Nature Neuroscience, 2023
  4. Nat Comm
    Catalyzing next-generation artificial intelligence through neuroai
    Anthony Zador, Sean Escola, Blake Richards, and 8 more authors
    Nature communications, 2023
  5. Cell Reports
    Thalamic control of cortical dynamics in a model of flexible motor sequencing
    Laureline Logiaco, LF Abbott, and Sean Escola
    Cell Reports, 2021