Organizer: Aidan Gilligan (IRL), SciCom – Making Sense of Science. Co-Organised by Dr. Michel Kazatchkine (FR), UN Secretary General’s Ban-Ki Moon’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis & Malaria.
8:00 – 9:30 AM, Saturday Feb 13th, 2016
Marriot Wardman Park
The ‘Brain Age’ is here. Massive investments in brain research and cognitive neuroscience are transforming understanding of the human mind. This session unites global teams racing to unlock the human brain and how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It unveils first insights into how scientists are building “mini-brains” on a chip. The neurons of these 3-dimensional organoids communicate spontaneously by neurotransmitters and electrical depolarisation – they are thinking.
The US, EU and now BRICS are developing technology platforms dedicated to Neuroinformatics, Brain Simulation, High Performance Computing, Medical Informatics, Neuromorphic Computing and Neurorobotics. Advocates argue that greater understanding of the brain holds great promise for better prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and rehabilitation of brain disorders. Sceptics worry about the social and ethical implications of altering brain function as we modulate and manipulate our brains, bodies, moods and actions. Already neuro-marketing firms manipulate ‘buy buttons’ influencing consumer behavior. Game developers 'train the brain' to overcome old age and mental illness. Nutrition companies sell mood-boosting beverages and stress-busting snacks, while policy-makers devise ‘nudges’ for their citizens. This panel of experts takes stock of the excitement of brain mapping discoveries tackling mood disorder and addiction against fears of their wider application in society.
SESSION PRESENTATION DOWNLOADS: CLICK HERE
|Organiser: Aidan Gilligan (IRL),
|Co- Organiser & Moderator: Dr. Michel Kazatchkine (FR),
UN Secretary General’s Ban-Ki Moon’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis & Malaria.
Presentation Title: Understanding Neurotoxicity: Building Human Mini-Brains From Patient’s Stem Cells
Dr. Thomas Hartung (DE)
Professor & Chair of Evidence-Based Toxicology; Director, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences
Of the 100,000 chemicals in consumer products, we know that approximately 1,000 are neurotoxic in animals and about 200 in humans, but only a dozen or so are confirmed to impair human neurodevelopment. The vast majority of these chemicals have never been tested. A key problem is that not every individual seems to be similarly sensitive to chemical exposure to their central nervous system and its embryonal development. Diseases like autism, ADHD, Parkinson, Alzheimer, ALS and others cannot be explained by genetics or exposure to toxicants alone. Neither have in-bred laboratory animals nor traditional cell lines allowed science to understand exactly why. Yet, greater understanding of our every-day drugs and chemicals, which have long been suspected of playing a role in the genesis of brain disease, might be just around the corner. The creation of induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) in 2006, for which the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded in 2012, is enabling science to build human “mini-brains”. The neurons of these 3-dimensional organoids communicate spontaneously by neurotransmitters and electrical depolarisation – they are thinking. What is novel for science is that by forming these mini brains from different patient’s cells allows us, for the first time, to study individual susceptibilities to toxicants. Patients, who developed a disease, obviously have the genetic make-up rendering them sensitive.
Presentation Title: Understanding The Brain Circuits Underlying Mood Disorders
MD Wayne Drevets (US)
Vice President, Disease Area Leader in Mood Disorders; Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson & Johnson Janssen Research & Development.
We have learned a great deal about the brain circuits which play roles in regulating emotional behavior and which function abnormally in major depressive disorder. My talk will show how we are using this knowledge to develop novel therapies using pharmacological and neuromodulation technologies.
Presentation Title: Understanding Vulnerability To Substance Addiction
MD Wilson Compton (US),
Deputy Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH-NIDA)
Wouldn't it be wonderful to attribute our compulsion for addictive damaging activities, such as overeating, taking illicit drugs or smoking, wholly to our genetic make-up? Then, we would have a clear explanation for these complex behaviors. Yet, environmental influences shape and are shaped by our genetic predispositions. A key issue is that we know that certain behaviors are bad for us but we still do them. Why? My talk explores the latest brain research behind addictive behavior. Personalized medicine provides plenty of research linking genetics and disease. But establishing a relationship between genetic variation and behavior is trickier. How does over-consumption of high-fat food trigger addiction-like neuro adaptive responses in our brain-reward circuitry? Why do some users become addicted very rapidly while overall less than 25% of heroin users do so? How does nicotine work as the principal reinforcing component in tobacco smoke responsible for addiction? Genetics plays a key role but is only one part of the puzzle. Environments, including intrauterine, early childhood, school, neighborhood and broad social settings, all play a key role in determining addiction outcomes. The three strands of biological, psychological and social elements working together is key to both understanding and intervening to prevent or treat addictions.