SfN Pre-Conference Sessions are sessions sponsored by the Society that occur prior to the official start of the annual meeting.  Paid registration is required for Short Courses and the Neurobiology of Disease Workshop. To attend, add the appropriate course to your annual meeting registration.

No separate registration is needed for the Meet-the-Expert Series and the Meet-the-Clinician-Expert session; however, space will be limited. Attendance is open to all registered annual meeting attendees.

Fees for SfN Pre-Conference Sessions

Short Courses 1 and 2
(Includes electronic syllabus and lunch)

Student member--------------$150
Student nonmember----------$225
Postdoctoral member---------$225
Postdoctoral nonmember-----$340
Faculty member----------------$295
Faculty nonmember------------$445

Short Course 3
(Includes electronic syllabus)

Student member------------------$100
Student nonmember--------------$150
Postdoctoral member-------------$150
Postdoctoral nonmember--------$225
Faculty member-------------------$200
Faculty nonmember---------------$300

Neurobiology of Disease Workshop------ $40
(Includes breakfast, lunch, and reception)

From Pediatric Encephalopathy to Alzheimer's: Linking Mitochondria to Neurological Diseases
Friday, Nov. 11, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
San Diego Convention Center: 6A
Support contributed by: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number 5R25NS054767. The content does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Organizers: Giovanni Manfredi, MD, PhD; Heidi McBride, PhD
Speakers: Erika Holzbaur, PhD; Carlos Moraes, PhD; Eric Schon, PhD; Luca Scorrano, MD, PhD; Richard Youle, PhD
Discussion Group Leaders: Erika Holzbaur, PhD; Elizabeth Jonas, MD; Stuart Lipton, MD, PhD; Giovanni Manfredi, MD, PhD; Heidi McBride, PhD; Leo Pallanck, PhD; Serge Przedborski, MD, PhD

Mitochondria are essential organelles that perform hundreds of biochemical reactions essential for processes beyond the generation of ATP.  The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the cell biology of mitochondria, which has provided a renewed understanding of their contribution to neurological diseases.  This symposium and workshop session aims to both inform and engage participants in the emerging strategies that will provide a better understanding of the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in disease.  

The morning sessions will outline recent discoveries in the etiology of mitochondrial diseases, the importance of mitochondrial plasticity within brain function, the mechanisms of mitochondrial motility in neurons, the critical importance of mitochondrial contacts with other organelles for the flux of metabolites, and the mitochondrial quality control pathways that ensure cellular survival.  In each case, participants will be given an overview of the field and discuss how these aspects of mitochondrial biology are altered in disease, including pediatric encephalomyopathies, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and others.  Breakout sessions will focus on identifying common themes, the challenges we face, and potential therapeutic directions in the search for treatments.   

  • ALS/Parkinson’s Disease: Mitochondrial Motility
            Erika Holzbaur, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: Mitochondrial Contact Sites and Function
            Eric Schon, PhD, Columbia University
  • Mitochondrial Encephalopathies
            Carlos Moraes, PhD, University of Miami
  • Mitochondrial Plasticity and Neurodegeneration
            Luca Scorrano, MD, PhD, University of Padua
  • Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease: Mitochondrial Quality Control
            Richard Youle, PhD, NINDS

Data Science and Data Skills for Neuroscientists
San Diego Convention Center: 6C
8 a.m.–6 p.m.
Organizers: Alyson Fletcher, PhD; Konrad Kording, PhD
Panelists: Danielle Bassett, PhD; Robert Kass, PhD; Jonathan Pillow, PhD; Maneesh Sahani, PhD; Pascal Wallisch, PhD

​Data skills and data science are moving from something that a small minority of computational scientists got excited about to central tools used by the bulk of neuroscientists. The objectives of this short course will be two-fold. First, leading experts will teach basic data skills that are useful and should be in the toolkit of virtually all neuroscientists. Second, speakers will survey the field of more advanced data science methods, to give participants an overview of which techniques to use under which circumstances.

This course will be tutorial-based requiring the use of technical computing software. Participating without at least some exposure to technical computing software will be difficult. Teaching assistants will be on hand throughout the day to assist course attendees with the tutorials.

Using Single-Cell Genomics to Analyze Neurons, Glia, and Circuits
8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
San Diego Convention Center: 6B
Support contributed by: Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck (partial support)
Organizer: Steve McCarroll, PhD
Panelists: Gordon Fishell, PhD; Evan Macosko, MD, PhD; Alex Pollen, PhD; Bosiljka Tasic, PhD; Andreas Tolias, PhD; Christopher Walsh, MD, PhD

Many classical approaches in neuroscience, such as electrophysiology, are inherently single-cell in resolution. Until recently, approaches that sought to measure large numbers of analytes – for example, the sequence or expression of all of the genes in a cell’s genome – could not be performed on large numbers of individual cells.  Recent advances in technologies for preparing and analyzing cells, and for sequencing nucleic acids, are quickly making it possible to study the nervous system in information-rich, highly multi-dimensional ways.  This rapidly-evolving field is presenting many exciting scientific opportunities – and also new challenges in computational data analysis and the integration of emerging technologies with classical research questions.

The goal of this day-long course will be to enable neuroscientists across many different specialties to apprehend these emerging technologies, to deploy them in their own research, and to define emerging research opportunities relevant to their areas of interest.  Morning lectures will cover emerging technologies and their recent uses to address earlier questions in neurobiology.  Afternoon discussions will focus on computational data analysis and new research questions and opportunities.

Record Keeping and Data Management for High-Quality Science
1-5:30 p.m.
San Diego Convention Center: 11B
Organizers: Michele Basso, PhD; Katja Brose, PhD; Horacio de la Iglesia, PhD; Sabine Kastner, MD, PhD; Rae Nishi, PhD
Panelists: Ann Hammersla; Horacio de la Iglesia, PhD; Michael Kalichman, PhD; Maryann Martone, PhD; 

Proper record keeping and data management are critical for the work we do as scientists. This course will focus on topics related to scientific record keeping and data management, including discussions of basic principles and best practices; information on responsibilities as an investigator, grantee, and author; recommendations on how to manage these responsibilities as part of collaborations; and an understanding of how funding agencies and journals address these issues when there are challenges around data integrity. Data and resource sharing as it contributes to open science and efforts to enhance data reproducibility will also be discussed. The course will feature three lectures interspersed with small group discussion opportunities to allow ample time for the examination of case studies.


Saturday, Nov. 12, 8-9:15 a.m. 
Manchester Grand Hyatt: Cortez Hill
Support contributed by: MilliporeSigma
Speaker: Dennis Choi, MD, PhD
Contact: program@sfn.org

At this year’s inaugural Meet-the-Clinician-Expert session, Dennis Choi will outline his career travelogue, beginning with returning to a medical school as an academic neurologist, while simultaneously working full-time in a pharmaceutical company, a university, and a non-profit disease foundation. When Choi began his training 40 years ago, clinical neuroscience was predominantly focused on bedside exams and prognosis, as treatment options were limited. Much has improved since then, but many therapeutic breakthroughs for nervous system diseases still remain undiscovered. Ready for the next charge of able neuroscientists and clinician-investigators? Choi will describe his own efforts to understand and interdict mechanisms of pathological neuronal death, working with both cell cultures and humans, and share personal perspectives gained along the way.

No registration is required for this event, but seating is limited. Continental breakfast will be provided.

Saturday, Nov. 12, 8-9:15 a.m., 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Experts will describe their research techniques and accomplishments in a personal context that offers participants a behind-the-scenes look at factors influencing each expert’s work.  The session will offer an opportunity for students and postdoctoral researchers to engage the expert in an informal dialogue over breakfast.  No registration is required, but seating is limited.

Session 1: 8–9:15 a.m.

Ricardo Araneda, PhD
Support contributed by:
Following the Scents of Discovery
Ricardo Araneda will discuss his journey as a scientist growing up in Patagonia, Chile, and migrating north following scents of discovery. Olfaction has an inherent complexity due to vast number of olfactory receptors employed in odor detection and neuronal plasticity of the network involved in processing odor signals. Araneda uses the olfactory system as a model to address two important questions in neurobiology: 1) the contribution of inhibitory components of neuronal networks to sensory processing; and 2) how the activity of these networks is regulated by neuromodulatory systems.
      Theme A: Development

Michael Goldberg, MD
Single Unit Recording in Awake Monkeys: Studying the Physiology of Cognition
A transformative event in neuroscience was the development of the awake monkey preparation.  Until midcentury, neurophysiology was done exclusively in anesthetized animals.  The awake monkey revolution really began with Ed Evarts at the NIMH, who studied motor cortex in awake, behaving monkeys. Bob Wurtz then showed you could use it to study visual perception. Fifty years later the awake monkey has contributed immensely to our knowledge of the physiology of psychological topics like perception, movement, decision-making, reward, and attention.  Michael Goldberg will discuss the history of the field, his personal journey through it, and the joys both of serendipity and strong-hypothesis science.
      Theme E: Motor Systems

Russell Swerdlow, MD
Support contributed by: MilliporeSigma
Mitochondria and Bioenergetics in Alzheimer’s Disease
What initiates Alzheimer’s disease (AD) histology changes in those with late-onset AD (LOAD) is unclear.  An association between advancing age, AD histology changes, and AD incidence suggests brain aging-related factors may play a role or even initiate the disease. Brain energy metabolism and mitochondrial function change with advancing age and in AD, leading some to propose a “mitochondrial cascade hypothesis” in which bioenergetic changes are hypothesized to initiate AD histology and clinical decline.  Russell Swerdlow will discuss how this idea has evolved over past decades, its current contributions to the AD field, and how it might impact future AD research.
      Theme C: Neurodegenerative Disorders and Injury

Rachel Wong, PhD
Support contributed by: Thor Labs
The Retina: A Colorful Window to the Brain
Rachel Wong is interested in how circuits of the vertebrate retina are assembled during development and reassembled during regeneration. To this end, the Wong lab has developed and applied structural and functional approaches to investigate the mechanisms responsible for patterning retinal circuits. Comparisons across species have also helped them to identify common or separate mechanisms that generate retinal circuits with specific functions. Wong will discuss how she became fascinated by the retina and its development, and how she built a program beyond her own expertise to tackle questions of interest.
      Theme B: Neural Excitability, Synapses, and Glia     

Session 2: 9:30–10:45 a.m.

Edward Callaway, PhD
Support contributed by: MilliporeSigma
Viral Connectomics: Tracing a Monosynaptic Path With Glycoprotein Deleted Rabies Viruses
Callaway’s lab showed that modified rabies viruses could genetically target neurons and selectively label direct monosynaptic inputs. Subsequent efforts have built on that demonstration to label the direct inputs to genetically targeted cell types or single neurons across the whole brain, in vivo. These reagents continue to be refined for neural circuit studies, allowing defined circuits to be directly linked to function through correlational and manipulative studies. He will describe the development of these tools and present unpublished negative results in which his team attempted to achieve monosynaptically-restricted trans-synaptic circuit mapping through different approaches.
      Theme F:
Integrative Physiology and Behavior   

Patricia Janak, PhD
Getting Psych-ed for the Future of Behavioral Neuroscience
The ultimate function of the nervous system is to produce behavior.  Patricia Janak will make the case that the rich history of animal behavioral research emanating from experimental psychology has been, and continues to be, invaluable for modern neuroscience.  In this discussion, Janak will talk about recent studies from her lab and others that use a neural circuit dissection approach and will suggest that a similarly sophisticated approach with respect to “behavioral dissection” is also required for a thorough understanding of neural function.
      Theme G: Motivation and Emotion

Peyman Golshani, MD, PhD 
Open-Source New-Generation Miniaturized Microscopes
One of the biggest challenges in neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits process, encode, store, and retrieve information. Meeting this challenge will require methods to record the activity of intact neural networks in freely behaving animals. Peyman Golshani and colleagues develop open source next-generation wireless, multi-channel miniaturized microscopes that, when combined with genetically encoded indicators of neural activity, can image and track activity patterns of large neural-cell populations in freely moving mice. They have developed an online environment to share their technology with the neuroscience community to accelerate the speed of neuroscience research.
      Theme H: Cognition

Viviana Gradinaru, PhD
Support contributed by: MilliporeSigma
Toward Intact Tissue Mapping and Phenotyping with Optogenetics, Tissue Clearing, and Viral Vector Engineering
Viviana Gradinaru’s work has focused on developing and using optogenetics and tissue clearing to dissect the circuitry underlying neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. Her group is now working to understand how perturbations of neuronal network activity can permanently impact the function and even viability of comprising neurons and ultimately change network properties and animal behavior. The Gradinaru lab also continues to develop and disseminate enabling technologies for high content anatomical and functional mapping. The informal discussion will cover the topics above while also highlighting scientific and career development challenges Gradinaru has faced along the way.
      Theme A: Development

Hongkui ZengPhD 
Support contributed by: MilliporeSigma
Decoding Cellular Diversity in the Brain
In this session, Hongkui Zeng will discuss her research team’s experience in developing cell type-specific mouse genetic tools; in using these tools to profile single cell properties at different levels and to determine how these properties correlate with each other; and in mapping their interconnections at both anatomical and physiological levels. Zeng will highlight the features of the Allen Institute for Brain Science’s large-scale databases, which collectively provide an integrated resource to the neuroscience community to facilitate the investigation of the cellular diversity, circuit composition, and circuit function. 
      Theme I:  Techniques

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If you have questions, email training@sfn.org or call (202) 962-4000.

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