2021 Neuroscience Retreat 
September 30 – October 1

Hybrid format
Zoom: Short talks, keynote lectures, table topics
In person: Poster sessions

Schedule Highlights

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Thursday, September 30

8:30a   Welcome
               Short Talks Session 1

10:00a Keynote Talk I

12:00p Intro of first year grad students
               Short Talks Session 2

1:00p   Table Topics

3:30p   Poster Session

Friday, October 1

8:30a   Welcome
               Short Talks Session 3

10:00a Intro of new faculty members
                Keynote Talk II

3:30p    Poster Session

Keynote Speakers

Tallie Z. Baram, MD, PhD is the D. Shepard Professor of Neurological Sciences and Distinguished Bren Professor in Pediatrics, Anatomy/Neurobiology and Neurology at UC-Irvine.

Baram is a child neurologist and developmental neuroscientist who has focused her efforts on the influence of early-life experiences on brain maturation and the implications of these enduring changes for neuropsychiatric diseases. She has been studying this broad topic in two contexts: a) How early-life experiences including adversity/stress (ELA) influence resilience and vulnerability to cognitive and emotional disorders; and b) how early-life seizures, especially those associated with fever, can convert a normal hippocampal circuit into an epileptic one.

Baram’s team addresses the consequences of ELA at molecular, cellular and circuit levels, and probes the underlying mechanisms. She has strong track-records in transdisciplinary science and the use of cross-species and cutting-edge molecular, epigenetic, viral-genetic and MR imaging approaches. The Baram lab has pioneered innovative, robust models of ELA and for febrile status epilepticus, adopted world-wide, and identified structural, cellular and molecular / epigenetic mechanisms of the resulting sequelae.

Baram’s work has been widely cited (>27,000 times; H =92, google scholar), and has been internationally recognized leading to NIH Javits merit award and research awards from the CNS, ANA, AAN and AES. Baram has strived to contribute to the scientific community, e.g., by, chairing NIH study sections and involvement in Societies and Editorial and Advisory Boards. Baram has a passion and commitment to mentoring: She is PI of a T32, and mentor of several MH/PhD students and NIH K awardees. Her prior trainees, from diverse ethnicities, countries and backgrounds, are now contributing independently to Neuroscience.

Viviana Gradinaru, PhD completed her B.S. at Caltech and her Ph.D. research at Stanford University and is now a Professor of Neuroscience and Biological Engineering at Caltech. Prof. Gradinaru has more than 70 publications in top peer-reviewed journals and more than 10 granted patents, additional pending, in areas of optogenetics, viral vectors, and tissue clearing and imaging. Prof. Gradinaru has received the NIH Director’s New Innovator and Pioneer Awards and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and has been honored as a World Economic Forum Young Scientist. Gradinaru is also a Sloan Fellow, Pew Scholar, Moore Inventor, Vallee Scholar, and Allen Brain Institute Council Member, and received the inaugural Peter Gruss Young Investigator Award by the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. In 2017 she was the Early-Career Scientist Winner in the Innovators in Science Award in Neuroscience (Takeda and the New York Academy of Sciences); in 2018 she received a Gill Transformative award; in 2019 Gradinaru was a Life Sciences Finalist for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists; and in 2020 she was the winner of Science Magazine & PINS Prize for Neuromodulation and awarded: the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science; the Outstanding New Investigator Award by the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy; and the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award.

Professor Gradinaru teaches undergraduate and graduate level classes on viral biology and optogenetics techniques in neuroscience. Viviana Gradinaru has also been very active in technology dissemination, participating with lab members in regular technology training workshops at Caltech and for summer courses at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as well as founding and now advising the CLOVER Center (Beckman Institute for CLARITY, Optogenetics and Vector Engineering), which provides training and access to the group’s reagents and methods for the broader research community (awarded Addgene Blue Flame for reagent dissemination). Gradinaru is also a cofounder and board member of Capsida Biotherapeutics, a fully integrated AAV engineering and gene therapy company.

RESEARCH SUMMARY Dr. Gradinaru’s research group at Caltech specializes in developing neuroscience tools and methods, including engineering of new viral vectors with optimized brain tropism after systemic delivery. In addition to developing technologies for neuroscience, Dr. Gradinaru has also been using such tools and methods to dissect circuitry underlying movement, mood, and sleep disorders (Gradinaru et al., Science, 2009; Xiao et al, Neuron, 2016; Cho et al, Neuron, 2017; Oikonomou et al, Neuron, 2019). The Gradinaru group at Caltech has recently developed and disseminated various new tools for less invasive gene delivery and optogenetics to the brain (Deverman et al Nature Biotechnology 2016; Chan et al Nature Neuroscience 2017; Challis and Kumar et al Nature Protocols 2019; Bedbrook et al Nature Methods 2020; Kumar et al Nature Methods 2020). With collaborators and her own Caltech group, Dr. Gradinaru is now applying these gene delivery tools to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders (Challis et al Nature Neuroscience 2019; Rauch et al Nature 2020).


Thursday, September 30

8:30 am – 9:45 am:  Welcome/Acknowledgements 
  • Anneliese Schaefer, PhD (Neurology; Director, Office of Neuroscience Research) and Jiwon Yi (Emcee; Graduate student, Neuroscience Program)
Short Talks, Session 1

Moderator: Sabin Nettles (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program)

  • Rui Feng, PhD (Cavalli lab, Neuroscience) – “Profiling macrophages in dorsal root ganglia reveals distinct origin and roles in axon regeneration after peripheral nerve injury”
  • Kellan Weston (Molecular Cell Biology Program; Yi lab, Neuroscience) – “UBE3A hyperactivity as a driver of neurodevelopmental disease”
  • Bridget Matikainen-Ankey, PhD (Kravitz lab, Psychiatry) – “How does obesity alter basal ganglia circuits and food seeking?”
  • Marco Pignatelli, MD (Assistant Professor, Psychiatry) – “Deconstructing and reconstructing the glutamatergic synapse in the era of the ‘psychoplastogen’ revolution”
9:45 am – 10:00 am: Break
10:00 am – 11:00 am: Keynote Talk

Speaker introduction: Jenna Krizan (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program)

  • Tallie Z. Baram, MD, PhD (University of California, Irvine)
    “How early-life experiences shape brain maturation: molecules, mechanisms, circuits”
11:00 am – 11:30 am: Break
11:30 am – 12:45 pm: Introduction of first year graduate students – ALL PROGRAMS
Short Talks, Session 2

Moderator: Julia Pai (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program)

  • Alessandro Livi, PhD (Padoa-Schioppa lab, Neuroscience) “Stable activity profiles in mouse orbitofrontal cortex over many weeks”
  • Rebecca Brady (Neuroscience Program; Smyser lab, Neurology) – “The Effects of Prenatal Crime Exposure on Neonatal Functional Connectivity”
  • Ryan Raut (Neuroscience Program; Raichle lab, Radiology) – “Brain state evolves along a spatiotemporal cycle”
  • Gaia Tavoni, PhD (Assistant Professor, Neuroscience) – “Information representation in neural networks: a computational perspective”
12:45 pm – 1:00 pm: Break
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Table Topics

NOTE: Be sure to upgrade Zoom to version 5.3.0 or higher so that you can pick your own Table Topic breakout room.

  • Neuroimmunology and Glia (Jony Kipnis)
  • Scientific Writing, Design, and Presentation (Kathleen Schoch)
  • Navigating transitions: fellowships, faculty applications, and beyond (Sarah Ackerman)
  • Professional Development (Dave Holtzman)
  • Unsolved mysteries in sleep functions (Yao Chen)
  • (How) can neuroscience help psychiatry? (Adam Kepecs)
  • Procrastination, or we could talk about something else first time is basically infinite (Philip Williams)
  • How to engage more in scientific societies (Rachel Hendrix)
  • Neuroscience and Rehabilitation: how can we improve patient lives? (Benjamin Philip)
  • Negotiations and Other Difficult Conversations (Tamara Hershey)
  • Resilience (Lavinia Sheets) 
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Poster Session (EPNEC, Great Rooms A/B)

View poster program

Friday, October 1

8:30 am – 9:45 am: Wrap Up from Day 1; Announcements

Jiwon Yi (Emcee; Graduate student, Neuroscience Program)

Short Talks, Session 3

Moderator: Shashank Anand (Graduate student, Biomedical Engineering Program)

  • Caitlin Dingwall (Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program; Milbrandt lab, Genetics) – “Rare NMNAT2 variants cause a severe SARM1-dependent inflammatory polyneuropathy syndrome”
  • Yang-Yang Feng (Biomedical Engineering Program; Monosov lab, Neuroscience) – “Lateral habenula activity predicts and causally influences online decision-making”
  • Lu Zhao, PhD (Cui lab, Biomedical Engineering) – “A potential sonogenetic actuator for ultrasound-mediated neuromodulation”
  • Ismael Seáñez, PhD (Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering) – “Improving motor control after spinal cord injury”
9:45 am – 10:00 am: Break
10:00 am – 11:15 am: New faculty member introductions
Keynote Talk 

Speaker Introduction: Shashank Anand (Graduate student, Biomedical Engineering Program)

  • Viviana Gradinaru, PhD (California Institute of Technology)
    “Engineered gene delivery vectors and microbial opsins for precise and minimally-invasive study and repair of nervous systems”
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Poster Session (EPNEC Great Rooms A/B)

View Poster program