SfN Pre-Conference Sessions
SfN’s Pre-Conference Sessions occur before the official start of the annual meeting and provide an opportunity to learn from global experts on emerging scientific topics and techniques, as well as rigorous and responsible conduct of scientific research. Space is limited and registration is required for both Friday’s Short Courses and Saturday’s Meet the Expert sessions. To attend, add the appropriate course or sessions to your annual meeting registration.
If you register for a pre-conference session between Thursday, October 22 – Friday, October 24, please be prepared to show proof of registration when you check-in on site at the session.
SHORT COURSE 2 — Translating Neuroscientific Discoveries Into Therapeutics — Needs, Challenges, and Potential Solutions
The translation of scientific discoveries into treatments for diseases is an impressive endeavor, yielding rigorous testing and therapeutic solutions. This course will review lessons learned about this translational process in the development of novel therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. It will also highlight how elucidating fundamental aspects of molecular, cellular, and systems neuroscience may improve the lives of millions at risk for or suffering from neurologic or psychiatric disorders.
SHORT COURSE 1 — Mechanisms and Methods in Circadian Rhythm Research
Circadian rhythm research has evolved from characterizing the molecular mechanisms of the activity-rest cycle in Drosophila and rodents to encompassing a wide variety of tools and models to help understand how these cycles affect behavior and the brain. In this course, experts will cover the broad landscape of past and current circadian research, from the use of non-traditional models and machine learning analysis methods to single cell sequencing and circadian medicine.
SHORT COURSE 3 — Tackling Challenges in Data Recording, Management, and Sharing
As science grows more open and collaborative, it is more critical than ever for labs to have a robust plan for data collection, management, and sharing. In this short course, experts will discuss the ways they organize, manage, and share scientific data both inside and outside the lab. Attendees across the career span will learn how research data is handled not just by scientists but also by the libraries and organizations that receive and store data long-term, as well as how to incorporate best practices into their work.
Meet-the-Clinician-Expert, Session 1 — Kenneth Kosik — Genetic Forms of Dementia in a Unique Clinical Setting — The Story of Colombia
Dr. Kosik will discuss international research that meshes clinical experience with molecular biology and neurogenetics. The research focuses on the largest kindred of familial Alzheimer’s disease in the world and is the basis of a drug prevention trial beginning before dementia symptoms. The team has sequenced additional cases with early onset dementia and uncovered numerous novel mutations. The close relationship of the researchers and families has created a strong humanist element to the project.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 1 — Byron Yu — Less Might Be More — Dimensionality Reduction of Large-Scale Neural Recordings
With the rapid development of technologies to monitor and perturb the brain's activity, there is a need for modern statistical methods to dissect and interpret neural activity. Dr. Yu will discuss the benefits of quantitative and experimental scientists working together at every stage of the scientific process: from experimental conception and design, to analysis of data, to development of new statistical tools, and beyond. He will also provide examples of studying the activity of large populations of neurons using dimensionality reduction.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 1 — Cagla Eroglu — What Do Astrocytes Do at Synapses, and Why Should We Care
Studies show that astrocytes are powerful controllers of synapse formation, function, plasticity and elimination. One human astrocyte can interact with up to two million synapses. How these glial cells evolved to gain their structure and how their structure mediates their enigmatic functions is still unknown. Dr. Eroglu’s laboratory identified many mechanisms that mediate astrocyte-neuron signaling, which controls synapse formation and maturation in concert with astrocyte morphogenesis and functional specification. Dr. Eroglu will discuss these findings within her personal journey that took her from her engineering origins to a cellular molecular neurobiologist.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 1 — Lisa Goodrich — Learning to Watch and Listen — A Harmonious Life as a Developmental Neuroscientist and Educator
It is hard to say what is more rewarding — discovering new information or training others to make their own discoveries. Academic scientists have the privilege of doing both. Work in the Goodrich laboratory examines how neurons in the eye and ear become specialized for their unique functions. Dr. Goodrich will discuss her own development as a neuroscientist and an educator, highlighting key decision points and lessons learned that have helped her to find harmony and satisfaction at work and in life.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 1 — Susumu Tonegawa — Neuroscience of Learning and Memory — Memory Engrams and Knowledge Transfer
Dr. Tonegawa will first briefly walk through almost 60 years of training and research spanning from molecular genetics to immunology to neuroscience. He will then describe in detail what is currently known about how memory of experience is formed, stored in the brain, and retrieved for recall, focusing on the discovery of "memory engrams" and their artificial manipulations. Dr. Tonegawa will end the talk by introducing a very recent study on the discovery of the hippocampal event code for knowledge that can be transferred across multiple tasks, making learning more efficient.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 2 — Danielle Bassett — Finding Simplicity in Complexity
Biological systems in general, and nervous systems in particular, are strikingly complex. For centuries, scientists have made progress by isolating and characterizing individual units of these systems. But the units are not enough to explain the system; we need a language in which to encode the intricate patterns of unit-to-unit interactions. Dr. Bassett will discuss how network science provides just such a language, embracing greater complexity while distilling the simple rules of biological architecture and function.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 2 — Karl Deisseroth — Building Things in Brains — Chemistry Construction Projects for Analysis and Discovery in Neural Systems
Over the past seven years, an in situ chemical synthesis approach to biological systems has emerged in which functional materials are assembled within tissues such as the brain — either constructed throughout the intact tissue (hydrogel-tissue chemistry/HTC), or genetically targeted to certain cell types (genetically-targeted chemical assembly/GTCA). Resulting hybrid materials are endowed with diverse capabilities, including the anchoring and labeling of RNA and proteins, in situ sequencing, transparency, reversible size changes, and electrical insulation or conduction. Dr. Deisseroth will discuss the principles and practice of this new way of interacting with biological systems.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 2 — Mala Murthy — Communicating on the Fly — What Neural Circuit Computations in Drosophila Can Teach Us About Our Own Brains
Dr. Murthy will highlight discoveries from her lab on the neural mechanisms and computations underlying social communication in the Drosophila model system and the many parallels it shares with communication strategies in other animals, including humans. She will explain the important role of developing quantitative tools for studying behavior in her studies. She will also discuss the choices that led her and her lab down this research path, and the role of effective communication in science.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 2 — Michael Taffe — An Unhealthy Interest in What the Kids Are Doing These Days
Recreational drug use continues to harm health, as well as vocational and inter-personal success, for some individuals. The complexities of human histories, contingencies and social settings make it difficult to isolate the effects of specific drugs; thus, animal models can assist in providing clear guidance. Dr. Taffe will describe how models from non-human primate to rat to crayfish have been used in his lab to determine effects of popular recreational drugs.
Meet-the-Expert, Session 2 — Rebecca Shansky — Studying Both Sexes in a World Built Around the Male Brain
Dr. Shansky's research investigates sexual dimorphism in fear circuitry using rodent models. Her lab integrates sophisticated behavioral analyses with high-resolution fluorescent microscopy to identify sex-specific patterns of fear expression, learning, and structural plasticity. She will discuss the challenges and surprises she has encountered as a sex differences-focused behavioral neuroscientist, as well as her current advocacy for sex equity in animal research.