We had six plenary lectures as part of the scientific programme. Our confirmed line-up:
Markus Heilig is professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience at Linköping University in Sweden. Before returning to Sweden in 2015 to be the Center’s founding director, he served for more than ten years at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, where he established and led a major NIH intramural programme in translational research.
Read here the press release.
Julianne Holt-Lunstad is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, where she is also the director of the social neuroscience lab. She also has an adjunct professorship at Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute Swinburne University of Technology; Melbourne, Australia.
Dr. Holt-Lunstad’s research is focused on the long-term health effects of social connection. Her work has been seminal in the recognition of social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for early mortality. Dr. Holt-Lunstad has worked with government organizations aimed at addressing this issue. She has provided expert testimony in a US Congressional Hearing, expert recommendations for the US Surgeon General Emotional Well-Being in America Initiative, served as a member of the technical working group for the UK Cross Departmental Loneliness Team, and is currently a member of a National Academy of Sciences consensus committee. She also serves as a scientific advisor for the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness, the Foundation for Art & Healing, the Rural Aging Advisory Council and research advisory panel for AARP Services, Inc. and United Healthcare. She has been awarded the Citation Award for Excellence in Research by the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the George A. Miller Award from the American Psychological Association, Karl G. Maeser Award, Mary Lou Fulton Young Scholar Award, Marjorie Pay Hinkley Endowed Chair Research Award, and is a Fellow for the Association of Psychological Science. Her work has been highlighted in the BBC 100 Breakthrough Health Discoveries in 2015, and has been covered in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, Scientific American, This American Life, The Today Show, and other major media outlets.
Could modulation of affective biases explain the efficacy of ketamine and other rapid-acting antidepressants in major depressive disorder?
Emma Robinson, United Kingdom
Emma completed her BSc(Hons) and PhD at the University of Bristol. After working with Prof David Nutt in the Psychopharmacology Unit in Bristol for 5 years, she was awarded an RCUK Academic Fellowship. During the fellowship she worked at the University of Cambridge, Experimental Psychology Department with Prof. Trevor Robbins and Jeffery Dalley before returning to Bristol to establish her independent research group. Now based in Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Emma’s research focuses on studies to investigate the neural and molecular mechanisms which regulate normal and pathological emotional behaviour. Her work is particularly interested in the relationship between psychological and biological mechanisms which contribute to the development and treatment of mood disorders. She has developed new methods to study neuropsychological impairments relevant to mood disorders using rodent models. These models have provided new insights into the neuropsychological effects of conventional and rapid acting antidepressants such as ketamine. Alongside research, Emma is involved in teaching across the science and professional programmes and is actively involved in public engagement in science.
Dynamic encoding of behavioural states in amygdala circuits
Andreas Luthi, Switzerland
Andreas Lüthi obtained his PhD in Neurobiology at the University of Basel, Switzerland. After two postdoctoral stays in Bristol, UK and in Zurich, Switzerland, he established his own research group in 2000, initially at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and then at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland. His lab addresses how neuronal circuits can generate behavior with a particular emphasis on synaptic, cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying learning and memory using classical conditioning and other learning paradigms as a model systems.
Brain Prize Lecture - Genomics of vascular dementia and stroke
Elisabeth Tournier-Lasserve, France
Elisabeth Tournier-Lasserve obtained her MD in Paris in 1984. After her residency in Neurology, she worked as a “chef de clinique” in neurology at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital for 2 years and then moved for 3 years to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda in the Molecular Biology research lab head by Pr RA Lazzarini. She is currently Professor of Medical Genetics University Paris7 Denis Diderot, Director of the National French Reference Genetics diagnostic lab for Neurovascular Disorders in Lariboisière hospital in Paris, and Director of INSERM U1161 Research lab on Genetics and pathophysiological mechanisms of Neuro-Vascular disorders.
Her main research interest in the past 25 years was focused on hereditary neurovascular disorders. She characterized the clinical features of several hereditary neurovascular disorders, revealed their molecular basis and developed diagnostic tools for these conditions to improve clinical care and genetic counseling for patients and families. Specifically, her team identified the genes involved in CADASIL, a paradigm for cerebral small vessel disease, as well as the genes involved in cerebral cavernous angiomas and moyamoya. Her team generated also highly relevant mouse models for FCCM, which showed the essential role of endothelial CCM proteins in venous beds and are currently used for preclinical trials. She received several international prizes including recently the 2016 international Lefoulon-Delalande prize and the 2019 Brain Prize from the Lundbeck Foundation.
Personalised medicine in depression: a realistic way forward?
Brenda Penninx, The Netherlands
Brenda Penninx, PhD, is professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the department of Psychiatry of Amsterdam UMC (location VUmc) in Amsterdam. Since 2004 she leads the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA), a longitudinal study of the course and consequences of depressive and anxiety disorders. Prof Penninx is currently also involved in several other (national and EU-funded) mental health cohort and intervention studies. Central themes in her research are understanding psychosocial, somatic and neurobiological risk factors and consequences of depression and anxiety disorders and how to impact on these to improve mental health. Penninx leads a successful research group involving over 30 junior and senior researchers and has widely published (>800 papers, >60,000 citations). She is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.