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Keynote Speaker: Terrence J Sejnowski - “Suspicious Coincidences in the Brain”
Terrence J. Sejnowski is the Francis Crick Professor and head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, a Distinguished Professor in the Section of Neurobiology/Neurosciences at the University of California – San Diego, and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Dr. Sejnowski is a pioneer in the field of computational neuroscience. Among other things, Sejnowski is interested in the hippocampus, believed to play a major role in learning and memory; and the cerebral cortex, which holds our knowledge of the world and how to interact with it. In his lab, Sejnowski's team uses sophisticated electrical and chemical monitoring techniques to measure changes that occur in the connections among nerve cells in the hippocampus during a simple form of learning. They use the results of these studies to instruct large-scale computers to mimic how these nerve cells work. By studying how the resulting computer simulations can perform operations that resemble the activities of the hippocampus, Sejnowski hopes to gain new knowledge of how the human brain is capable of learning and storing memories. This knowledge ultimately may provide medical specialists with critical clues to combating Alzheimer's disease and other disorders that rob people of the critical ability to remember faces, names, places and events.
Invited Symposium Speakers
Edward S. Boyden, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Edward S. Boyden is an Assistant Professor at the MIT Media Lab and Joint Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Department of Biological Engineering. Dr. Boyden’s group is centered in the MIT Media Lab and jointly affiliated with the MIT Department of Biological Engineering and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, works on inventing new tools for the analysis and engineering of brain circuits. His team has been developing molecules, hardware, and methods to activate, silence, and modulate neural activity and circuit signaling, within and between brain circuits. They also work on novel, focal, noninvasive methods for human brain stimulation. They also seek to discover the principles of how to use these tools optimally, both for repairing neurological and psychiatric pathologies, and revealing principles of brain circuit operation. Ideally they will develop new approaches to solving major unaddressed problems in neuroscience, and to repair the neural computations corrupted in disease states such as Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. They recently received, amongst our major recent awards, the Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience, the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and election to Discover Magazine's "20 Best Brains Under 40."
Leonardo G. Cohen, National Institutes of Health
Dr. Cohen received his M.D. from the University of Buenos Aires. He did his neurology residency at Georgetown University and received postdoctoral training in clinical neurophysiology at the Department of Neurology, University of California (Irvine) and in motor control and movement disorders at the Human Motor Control Section, NINDS. In 1998 he became chief of the Human Cortical Physiology Section, NINDS. He received the prestigious Humboldt award (1999) from the Republic of Germany and is an elected member of the American Neurological Association. Dr. Cohen's lab is interested in the mechanisms underlying plastic changes in the human central nervous system and in the development of novel therapeutic approaches for recovery of function based on the understanding of these mechanisms.
Nancy J. Kopell, Boston University
Dr. Kopell is currently co-director of the Center for BioDynamics (CBD) in the College of Engineering at Boston University. This multidisciplinary, interdepartmental center aims to train undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral fellows in leading techniques from dynamical systems theory and its applications to biology and engineering. She lists her current research interests as mathematical modeling of networks of neurons in vertebrates and invertebrates; special interest in networks having oscillatory behavior, such as those governing rhythmic motor behavior, thalamocortical and hippocampal networks; and use of mathematics to investigate how properties of cells and small networks affect the dynamics of the larger networks that contain them. James Collins, professor of biomedical engineering and co-founder of CBD with Kopell, says that "Nancy is one of the leading biomathematicians in the world. She began working on problems in mathematical biology long before it was fashionable, and based on her work mathematical biology has developed into a fertile and well recognized area of research."
Andrew Schwartz, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Schwartz received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1984 with a thesis entitled "Activity in the Deep Cerebellar Nuclei During Normal and Perturbed Locomotion". He then went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he worked with Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, who was developing the concept of directional tuning and population-based movement representation in the motor cortex. While there, Schwartz was instrumental in developing the basis for three-dimensional trajectory representation in the motor cortex. In 1988, Dr. Schwartz began his independent research career at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. There, he developed a paradigm to explore the continuous cortical signals generated throughout volitional arm movements. This was done using monkeys trained to draw shapes while recording single-cell activity from their motor cortices. After developing the ability to capture a high fidelity representation of movement intention from the motor cortex, Schwartz teamed up with engineering colleagues at Arizona State University to develop cortical neural prosthetics. The work has progressed to the point that monkeys can now use these recorded signals to control motorized arm prostheses to reach out grasp a piece of food and return it to the mouth. Schwartz moved from the Barrow Neurological Institute to the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego in 1995 and then to the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. In addition to the prosthetics work, he has continued to utilize the neural trajectory representation to better understand the transformation from intended to actual movement using motor illusions in a virtual reality environment.
Jerrold L. Vitek, University of Minnesota
Jerry Vitek, M.D, Ph.D. is the Chairman of Neurology at the University of Minnesota. He is a physician scientist (neuroscience) and movement disorders specialist. Dr. Vitek’s clinical focus is deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, dysotnia and movement disorders and exploring its implementation for the treatment of other neurological and psychiatric disorders. His basic science work is in systems neuroscience examining the role of the basal ganglia thalamocrtical circuitry in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and other neurological disorders. He has a very active basic science laboratory with multiple research projects and NIH funding to support these projects. His laboratory group includes basic scientists, physician scientists, biomedical engineers and scientists with strong interest in techniques using 3T, 7T and greater MR imaging. They a collaborative group across multiple disciplines addressing basic science questions that have direct translation to clinical problems.
Patricia D. Hurn, Ph.D., The University of Texas System
Dr. Hurn is Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Research at The University of Texas System located in Austin, Texas. She serves as the chief health research officer to UT System Administration and its six academic health center campuses. Her focus is on building collaborative models of bio-health research, creating innovative science education programs, and construction of technological systems and infrastructure for the mission of discovery.
In addition to her UT system leadership role, Dr. Hurn is an active neuroscientist and internationally known for her work in understanding the cellular and molecular basis of gender differences in response to experimental brain injury. She is appointed as Research Professor in Neurobiology in the College of Natural Sciences of the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Hurn directs a translational laboratory that studies the role of hormone in post-stroke immunology, generously funded by the National Institutes of Health.