Press Conferences

Press conferences will begin Sunday, October 20. Browse the schedule below for summaries and related news releases.

Sunday, October 20

8:30 AM
Human Fusions: Ethical and Social Issues Raised by Neural-Digital Interfaces

Human-machine interfaces raise important ethical and social issues. Innovations promise to restore, alter, or enhance function in humans, but also may exacerbate existing social tensions around equality, identity, security, privacy, and access. This press conference will address questions about the technology's impact to society and the conditions for its governance. In a world of rapidly expanding human-technology symbiotic unions, we explore how to keep humanity at the center.

Dustin J. Tyler, Case Western Reserve University
Emma-Jane Alexander, University of Wyoming
Brandon Prestwood
David Hodge, Tuskegee University
Douglas Weber, University of Pittsburgh
Suzanne M. Rivera, Case Western Reserve University
Nicholas Zingale, Cleveland State University

Press Release:

Solitary confinement puts brains at risk
10:30 AM
Untangling the Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

Glucose is a crucial energy source needed for healthy brain functioning, and disruptions in its metabolism have been implicated in both diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. New research is investigating the link between these diseases. Researchers will discuss how diet and excess blood glucose influence Alzheimer’s pathology, as well as how our new understanding can lead to new therapies targeting glucose pathways.

David Holtzman, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
Sami Gabbouj, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio
Liqin Zhao, University of Kansas, Lawrence
Steven Barger, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock
Shannon Macauley, Wake Forest School of Medicine, North Carolina

Press Release:

New glimpses into brain uncover neurological basis for processing social information
1:00 PM
Gene Therapy: Curing the Incurable

Gene therapy shows promise as a way to prevent, treat, and reverse neurological disorders that are presently incurable, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gene therapy is a cutting-edge technique that uses viruses to alter the genetic code of cells, including repairing a mutated gene, silencing a disease-causing gene, or inserting a disease-fighting gene. Researchers will discuss successes in using gene therapy to restore lost functions in animal models of neurological diseases, as well as technique advancements that may improve future treatments.

Jeff Kordower, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
Gong Chen, Pennsylvania State University, State College
Sergio Ferreira, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sophie Mathiesen, The University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Jeff Kordower, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
Clive Svendsen, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles

Press Release:

Realizing the potential of gene therapy for neurological disorders
3:00 PM
NIH Directors Press Conference

At the NIH's Director's Press Briefing at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience Conference, NIH Institute directors will discuss initiatives for 2019-2020.

Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Nora Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
George Koob, Ph.D., Director, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
David Shurtleff, Ph.D., Deputy Director, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Eliezer Masliah, M.D., Director, Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Monday, October 21

8:30 AM
Mapping the Brain’s Molecular Machinery, Cell by Cell

Neurological disorders are complex and often modify how genes are expressed in many types of cells throughout the brain, making specific changes difficult to pin-point. A new field of research, called single-cell transcriptomics, allows neuroscientists to determine changes in gene expression by cataloguing all of the products created by the gene in one individual brain cell, several thousand cells at a time. Scientists will discuss advances in single-cell transcriptomics and its application in fields as diverse as drug addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, and brain development.

Naomi Habib, Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, Jerusalem
Philipp Mews, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Arnold Kriegstein, University of California, San Francisco
Vivek Swarup, University of California, Irvine

Press Release:

Disrupted circadian rhythms may drive anxiety and exacerbate brain disorders
10:30 AM
From Molecules to Monkeys: The Future of Autism Research

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social, communicative, and behavioral impairments, effects one in fifty children. Recent hormone and gene research have illuminated new understanding of ASD that could lead to new treatments. This research includes a placental hormone whose absence is linked to ASD, a new monkey model that more accurately represents the complex symptoms of the condition, and insight into genes that regulate information transfer between nerve cells.

Manny DiCicco, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey
Anna Penn, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
Yong Zhang, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
Arkoprovo Paul, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Press Release:

Extracellular vesicles help pass information between cells and onto offspring
1:00 PM
The Impact of Gut Bacteria on Brain Health

The 100 trillion bacteria that live in our intestine, known as the gut microbiome, are a quiet but powerful influence on our health—including our brain health. Neuroscientists are beginning to unpack the specifics of the gut-brain relationship in the hopes of developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers will discuss how manipulating the microbiome affects the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury, as well as the role of specific molecules in brain-gut communication.

Jane Foster, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
Hemraj Dodiya, The University of Chicago
Harpreet Kaur, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
Wellington Amar, University of California, Los Angeles
Malu Tansey, University of Florida Health, Gainesville
3:30 PM
Self-Sabotage: The Role of the Immune System in Neurological Disorders

Recent studies have revealed that the brain’s immune response is implicated in conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. Microglia, the immune cells in the brain, are involved in regulating inflammation in the brain and may be the key to understanding its role in neurological disorders. Researchers will discuss insights into how microglia function in both healthy and diseased states, how they affect behavior, synaptic regulation, and memory and learning.

Donna Wilcock, the University of Kentucky, Lexington
Gen Ohtsuki, Kyoto University, Japan
Kalipada Pahan, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
Dorothy Schafer, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester

Press Release:

Adolescent brain development impacts mental health, substance use

Tuesday, October 22

10:00 AM
Brain in a Dish: The Viability of Organoids

A prevailing challenge in the field of neuroscience is studying simplified animal models in order to learn about the human brain. Animal models enable experiments not possible in humans, but do not replicate the diversity and complexity of the human cortex. Human stem cells cultured in a dish, called organoids, offer a novel way to study the human brain without needing a human subject. Researchers will discuss strengths and weaknesses of organoids as a model for the human cortex and how it has already been employed to study developmental brain disorders.

Hongjun Song, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Paola Arlotta, the Broad Institute, Boston
Michael Nestor, The Hussman Institute For Autism, Maryland
Arnold Kriegstein, University of California, San Francisco

Press Release:

Brain-computer interface advances improve prosthetics, therapies
12:00 PM
The Social Brain: How Humans are Hard-Wired for Relationships

Humans have evolved to be incredibly social creatures, capable of complex communication and predicting the emotional and mental states of others. Current research hopes to understand the neuroscience of social behavior to increase workplace productivity and treat autism spectrum disorder and anxiety. Researchers will discuss the neural correlates of social behaviors like empathy and theory of mind, as well as the effects of touch on brain activity.

Michael Platt, the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Sarah Mcintyre, Linköping University, Sweden
Simone Shay-Tsoory, University Of Haifa, Israel
Mohammad Shehata, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
Fabian Grabenhorst, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Ziv Williams, Harvard University, Boston

Press Release:

New insights into the neural risks and benefits of marijuana use
2:30 PM
Understanding Smell, The Forgotten Sense

Smell is critical to navigation, hunting, predator detection, and other day-to-day activities in animals. Understanding the sense is crucial for the future development of robotic noses for purposes like search and rescue missions. Despite its essential role, our grasp of how the brain processes smell lags behind our knowledge of other senses like vision. Researchers will share recent insights into the cells and circuits recruited in scent processing and how they translate to behavior.

Alexander Fleischmann, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Suzanne Lewis, University of Washington, Seattle
Roman Shusterman, University of Oregon Institute of Neuroscience, Eugene
Walter Fischler, Columbia University, New York
Yushu Chen, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York
Dmitry Rinberg, New York University Langone Health

Press Release:

Rat models of opioid use and addiction explore risk of abuse