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Dissecting Science

About the Event:

Science Matters and VCU Health sponsored an exciting event on Tuesday, November 10th as a complement to the PBS Series The Brain with David Eagleman. It featured an informal evening of science exploration and communication which began at 6:00 p.m. with food trucks, cash bar, hands-on activities for adults and a moderated panel.

Check out the photos from this great evening of science


Watch the Presentations:

Kathryn L. Holloway, M.D., Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, VCU Health; Director, Richmond PADRECC, McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital;Chief, Section of Neurosurgery, Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital. Holloway spoke on “Deep Brain Stimulation: Restoring Broken Circuits.”

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Michael Friedlander, Ph.D., Executive Director, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute; Associate Provost for Health Sciences, Virginia Tech; Senior Dean for Research, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Dr. Friedlander explored "New levels of understanding brain function for better science based diagnoses and treatments in Virginia - the brain state." Friedlander described recent advances that build on foundational discoveries about the plasticity or adaptability of synaptic networks in the brain. He highlighted basic laboratory discoveries and explore how research with humans is applying those principles towards better diagnostics and restorative treatments. Contributions from across the Commonwealth including some examples from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute will be presented, highlighting Virginia as the brain state.

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Jonathan Kipnis, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG), University of Virginia’s School of Medicine spoke on "The Immune Dimension of Brain Function."  Kipnis explored how the immune system supports brain function and how neurological disorders can be therapeutically targeted through the immune system. He shared a recent stunning discovery made by researchers at UVA that has overturned decades of textbook teaching. Researchers have determined that the brain is directly connect to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.

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David X. Cifu, M.D., Herman J. Flax, MD Professor and Chairman, VCU Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Senior TBI Specialist, US Department of Veterans Affairs; Principal Investigator, VA/DoD Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium. Cifu discussed "From Ballfield to Battlefield: Do Concussions Lead to Dementia?" He provided an overview of the epidemic of concussions affecting all levels of sports (childhood to professional), the military and Veterans and motor vehicle collisions; the current findings on recovery including risks for dementia; and the state of the science on the $600 million in research funding provided by the Federal government since 2007 to investigate this phenomenon on concussions.

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In addition to the talk, there were:

Hands-on Activities Included:

Exploring the Science of Neuroplasticity with Blue Ocean Brain, a micro-learning digital solution grounded in the latest neuroscience. Exercise your mind with exciting brain challenges and brain teasers. Some mental stretching required.

Testing your brain, eye and hand at EyeWire, a video game to map the brain. Solving the mysteries of the brain requires something more powerful than a supercomputer - You. In collaboration with Seung Lab at Princeton, over 200,000 people from 145 countries are working together to map the 3D structure of neurons to decipher the mysteries of vision. EyeWire gameplay advances neuroscience by helping researchers discover how neurons connect and network to process information.

Pat Trimmer, Ph.D., Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at VCU helped folks learn about the living human brain using preserved human and animal brains. Learn more about VCU's Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Center and the Brain Bank at VCU and learn about a new approach for the treatment for depression using near-infrared lasers.

Exploring “The Science of Illusions” with Cedar Riener, Ph.D., Associate-Professor of Psychology, Randoph-Macon College and students. Learn more about the brain through interactive activities with UVA and VCU neuroscience graduate students.


More on the PBS 6 Part Series The Brain with David Eagleman