Press Program Announced For Neuroscience 2009
New National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins to deliver special address
WASHINGTON — New research findings on the brain, nervous system, and related disorders — from retinal repair, to social interactions, to spinal cord regeneration — will be discussed in press conferences at Neuroscience 2009 in Chicago, Oct. 17–21. The annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), Neuroscience 2009 is the world’s largest source of emerging news on brain science and health. More than 30,000 neuroscientists from around the world are expected to gather at McCormick Place Convention Center for this year’s event.
“From cognitive development to cognitive decline, neuroscience investigates the scope of life in a unique way,” said SfN President Tom Carew. “Neuroscientists investigate our awareness of life and humanity: what it is to think, feel, learn, and interact. Moreover, research into the nature of the brain and mind has translated into longer lives and better health outcomes for millions of Americans,” Carew said. “The 21st century is a ‘golden age’ of scientific discovery, and the human brain is one of the most promising frontiers.”
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, will deliver a special presentation Oct. 19. Collins will discuss his vision for NIH, and the key challenges and opportunities facing NIH and the broader scientific community. A media availability with Collins is scheduled the same day as his presentation.
Neuroscience 2009, which marks SfN’s 40th anniversary, hosts a working press room and provides complimentary registration to reporters covering the event. Press events will be held Sunday, Oct. 18, through Tuesday, Oct. 20. Topics include:
Retinal Repair: A Route to Vision
Diseases of the retina cause damage thought to be irreparable. But stem cell transplants and advances in gene therapy are offering hope for the blind to see. What are the human implications for new research that successfully restored vision in blind mice? How might new insights into visual development be applied?
Run For Your Life, Exercise Your Brain
Exercise and physical activity are central to a healthy lifestyle and slim waistline, but new research shows that exercise also has a dramatic effect on the brain. How does exercise alter brain mechanisms in beneficial ways? What does new research tell us that can guide treatment of mental health disorders or diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease?
The Neurobiology of Social Interaction
Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism — as well as Williams, Rett’s, Fragile X, and Timothy syndromes — result in profound deficits in social interaction. Recent studies identify links between these deficits, like abnormal language or atypical facial recognition, and neural activity. What do cellular brain mechanisms tell us about understanding and treating these disorders?
Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier
The “blood brain barrier” protects the brain and spinal cord from potentially damaging substances in the blood — and restricts entry of many drugs into the brain. Research is helping to engineer pharmaceuticals for cancer and neurological disorders that cross the barrier. New related research is also exploring interactions between the neural and immune systems, once thought to be totally separated; what clues is it providing to the cause of disease?
Spinal Cord Regeneration and Recovery
A spinal cord injury changes everything, restricting a person’s mobility and independence. New research shows the potential for regenerating damaged nerves and growing new spinal cord connections. For injuries so difficult to treat, how might this research lead to new therapies?
Optogenetics, A Neural Light Show
Using light to turn neurons on and off — known as “optogenetics” — researchers study brain circuits in great detail. Laser light stimulation of specific cells in animals is helping in the study of depression, memory storage, and recall. This high-resolution mapping brings new knowledge of the brain’s cell and circuit organization. What is the potential for promising new therapies?
Additional press conference topics are:
• Gender Research: New Male Insights
• Think What You Eat: Obesity and the Brain
• New Insights into Addiction
• For the Brain, Music Matters
• Evolution of Brain and Behavior: Learning from Animals
Other meeting events highlight the interplay between brain research and global culture, politics, and society:
• “Magic, The Brain, and the Mind”: Renowned magicians Apollo Robbins and Eric Mead will explore how attention, memory, and perception inform the art and practice of illusion and magic in the annual Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society presentation.
• Social Issues Roundtable: Alan I. Leshner, PhD, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will lead a panel discussion on engaging the public on the ethical, legal, and social implications of neuroscience research.
• The Public Advocacy Forum will feature a group of business, research, and economic leaders to discuss the role of scientific research in strengthening our economy.
For more information visit:
• Neuroscience 2009 media registration: www.sfn.org/pressroom
• Neuroscience 2009 Web site: www.sfn.org/am2009