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  1. The SfN Presidential Lectures are always given by amazing scientists and Sunday night's presentation by Dr. Paola Arlotta was no exception. In case you missed her talk on "Understanding Brain Development: from Embryos to Organoids" here is a brief summary. Her talk was broken into two categories: how the brain establishes cellular diversity and growing 3D human brain organoids outside the embryo. Dr. Arlotta built upon the Allen Institutes work to classify neuron types in the cerebral cortex and genetic markers for those classifications. It was found that most neurons do not have a single gene marker but rather signature gene groups. As the cerebral cortex grows from prenatal through adolescence cells differentiate in groups, not linearly. One cell does not become all cell types, but rather there are “decision points” that lead to branching of only subset of cell types from that point forward. Dr. Arlotta’s group focused on identifying what happens at these decision points in order to force progenitors to become specified neurons. They worked on isolating selected cell types and identifying which gene molecules were co-regulated. They then determined which progenitor cells changed when given these gene molecules in vivo. However, most genetic neurodevelopmental diseases are more complex than single cell types. To address this the Arlotta group began working on developing 3D human brain organoids. They used human blood and skin cells to form iPSCs. iPSCs were then grown into 3D spheres about 4-5mm that could live up to 9 months, much longer than typical iPSCs. These organoids will self-organize. Within the organoids, cell diversity similar to human brain could be observed. Ventricles, sub-ventricle, and cortical regions were all identified. They did begin to find that there was a large amount of variability between organoids. Work by Silvia Vaclasco began to show that after 3 months the cell diversity was indeed reproducible. By 6 months astrocytes could be identified. Most excitingly the gene profiling from these organoids matched that of a human brain. Dr. Arlotta concluded “organoids can serve as reductionist experimental model of human brain development,” and help us study patients with diseases we cannot model in animals. We can also use this method to produce patient-derived iPSCs and begin to identify molecular pathways and treatments for more complex diseases. If you missed this talk, the largest missing component was Dr. Arlotta’s passion for science. She shared slides just to ensure that all this differentiation is available in the genome. We all know that all cells have the same DNA and therefore the same information. But to hear Dr. Arlotta remind us that these human organoids started as skin cells was mind-blowing. Science can be epically cool sometimes, and this lecture was a great example of that.
  2. This session is unique in that it is almost entirely Q&A. After a brief introduction from each speaker, they begin answer questions and giving advice. It is a wonderful chance to discuss issues facing women from balancing family and work to dealing with harassment. While the entire session will be available online later, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite moments. I was first drawn in when Dr. Kasey Jackson was asked what her biggest challenge to overcome was and she replied “myself.” It was so honest and so relatable. We can be our own largest enemy. Jackson described a familiar feeling of inadequacy and not being smart enough for science. Jackson said she reminds herself that it could not have been luck this many times. You don’t get this many grants, papers, etc by luck this many times. You have gotten where you are by hard work. I was most surprised when the panel had no response to a question about sacrifices they made to be a female scientist. Really, no sacrifices at all? They mentioned there were occasional talks they missed because they didn’t want to travel while 9 months pregnant. There were choices to wait to have kids. But none of them viewed them as sacrifices. Just choices they made to create the life they wanted. It wasn’t meant to be an idealistic response. But it became a subtle way to fight this idea that you have to “sacrifice” your life as a mother to be a scientist or vis versa. Dr. Michelle Jones-London admitted “you can’t have it all, all the time, in every moment.” But you are an adult, and you can choose what you want to prioritize when. For some women, that priority is going into a field that is not supportive of women. And that is great. We need trailblazers who are willing to start tipping the scales. But I want to thank the panelist who reminded me, not everyone has to be a trailblazer. You can pick an institute or job that is known to be more supportive of females. And that doesn’t make you less of a person. Just because you are a minority doesn’t’ mean you have to be the one to fight every battle. The most moving part though, was when an audience member was brave enough to ask what she should do next because she wasn’t getting the support she needed from her administration, including Title IX. To that woman, I admire you and thank you for your honest vulnerability. To the panel, I am so touched to see how deeply concerned you all became. Dr. VanHoven was near tears. The best advice from all of this panel was simply this: for anyone, male or female, student or faculty, young or old, your first priority is to be safe; your second is to make it safe for others. No job is worth risking your physical safety. It doesn’t matter if you need to switch labs and take longer to graduate, whatever the price, your physical safety must come first. And then report it so others can be safe as well. It won’t stop if you do nothing. Even if one person didn’t respond, the administration is made of multiple people, and you only need one to respond to you. You can take legal action. Do whatever you need to do to take care of your safety first and foremost. To all the amazing women who served on this panel, thank you. May you continue to inspire the next generation of female scientists.
  3. Santiago Garcia Rios

    Poster registration deadline

    Hello everyone. I was wondering if anyone knows when does the deadline for the registration of the poster is due. Tanks :)
  4. Michael Oberdorfer

    Animals Panel

    Be sure to Attend the Animals in Research Panel on Monday, November 13th, Noon to 2PM, Room 103A. " How to effectively communicate your animal research"
  5. Join the #SfN17 Live Chat | October 17th at 12:00 p.m. EDT Whether you are an annual meeting veteran or you are attending for the first time, proper planning is key to a successful experience. From lectures and poster sessions to professional development workshops and the Grad School Fair, this live chat will showcase the different types of learning and networking opportunities at the meeting. On October 17th from 12-1 p.m. EDT, facilitators will discuss tips on: Understanding different types of events Taking advantage of professional development and networking opportunities Planning your schedule in advance Participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance of the live chat in the discussion thread below. You are also welcome to direct your questions to specific facilitators by tagging their usernames: @Marguerite @heimanchow @Alexandra Facilitators: Marguerite Matthews, PhD Marguerite Matthews is a 2016-2018 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. She previously worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Oregon Health and Science University. Matthews’s main interests lie in programs and policies impacting the biomedical research workforce. She earned her BS in biochemistry from Spelman College and her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. Kim Heiman CHOW, PhD Kim Chow is a research assistant professor in Prof. Karl Herrup’s laboratory at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She is currently a volunteer of both the Trainee Advisory Committee and Trainee Professional Development Award Selection Committee of Society for Neuroscience. Kim’s research focuses on unveiling the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and Ataxia telangiectasia. She earned her PhD in medicine and pharmacology from the University of Hong Kong and her first postdoctoral training in biomedical engineering form the Cornell University. She is currently an Alzheimer’s Association research fellow, a fellow at the neuro-technology and brain science council of the World Economic Forum and a junior fellow of the institute for advanced study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Alexandra Colón-Rodriguez, Ph.D. Alexandra Colón-Rodriguez is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Davis. She holds a dual major Ph.D. in Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology, and Environmental Toxicology from Michigan State University. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Universidad del Este-Carolina, Puerto Rico. Colón-Rodriguez graduate research in the lab of Dr. William Atchison focused in understanding the toxicity of an environmental neurotoxicant, methylmercury, on spinal cord motor neurons. Currently, her postdoctoral research in Dr. Megan Dennis lab is using zebrafish as a model to characterize epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder candidate genes that are involved in synaptic function. Related content: How to Plan for SfN’s Annual Meeting as a Trainee (Sample Agenda) Neuronline’s Advice for SfN’s Annual Meeting Collection Annual Meeting Resources for Trainees
  6. Eljack

    Trump's Executive Order

    Greetings, I’m Ahmed Eljack, a Sudanese medical student and author of “Eljack’s Lecture Notes in Neuroscience”. I was planning to attend SfN Annual Meeting 2017 but I was surprised that I can’t get a visa due to the Executive Order which banned 7 countries’ nationals from entering the US. Is there any other affected persons in this forum? Regards
  7. neuronline_admin

    Getting the Most Out of the Annual Meeting

    Whether you are an annual meeting veteran, or you are attending for the first time, proper planning is key to a successful experience. From lectures and poster sessions to professional development workshops and the NeuroJobs Career Center, this webinar and live chat will showcase the different types of learning and networking opportunities at the meeting. This webinar on November 2 from 3-4 p.m. EDT will discuss tips on: Understanding different types of events Taking advantage of professional development and networking opportunities Planning your schedule in advance If you feel more comfortable asking your questions anonymously during the live chat from 4-4:30 p.m. EDT following the webinar, you may do so by clicking your account’s round avatar icon in the upper right hand corner and selecting the “Enter Anonymous Mode” iconin the drop-down menu. During the live chat, you are also welcome to direct your questions to specific speakers by tagging their usernames: @Elisabeth_VanBockstaele @ajstavnezer @Biancajmarlin. Link back to webinar
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