Meet our Keynote and Plenary speakers

Keynote speaker

Yasmin Hurd, USA
The vulnerable brain: pathways to and from addiction
Yasmin Hurd, USADr. Yasmin Hurd is the director of the addiction institute within the Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System as well as the Ward Coleman chair of translational neuroscience and professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Hurd’s translational research examines the neurobiology of drug abuse and related psychiatric disorders. Her research exploring the neurobiological effects of cannabis and heroin has significantly shaped the field. Using multidisciplinary research approaches, her research has provided unique insights into the impact of developmental cannabis exposure and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the drug’s protracted effects. Based on Hurd’s high impact accomplishments and her advocacy of drug addiction education and health, she was inducted into both the National Academy of medicine and the National Academy of science, complementing other honors she has received in the field.

Plenary Speakers

We will again have six Plenary Lectures as part of the scientific programme. Our confirmed speakers are:

Katharina Domschke, Germany
Epigenetics, stress and the neurobiology of anxiety and affective disorders
Katharina DomschkeKatharina Domschke, MA, MD, PhD is full professor and Chair of the dept. of psychiatry and psychotherapy, University of Freiburg, Germany, since 2016. Her clinical focus is on the treatment and prevention of anxiety, stress-related and affective disorders. Scientifically, Katharina is a renowned expert in genetics, epigenetics, imaging genetics and pharmacogenetics in the targeted treatment and prevention of anxiety, stress-related and affective disorders as reflected by to date ~360 publications in international journals and an h-index of 52. She has received funding from the EU, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) and is a full member of ACNP, ECNP, ISPG, SOBP and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Katharina serves on the editorial boards of 15 international journals. Her work has been recognized by e.g. the WFSBP Research Award, the WPA Fellowship Award and the ECNP Fellowship Award. She is a member of the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina.

Siri Leknes, Norway
How opioids shape our feelings: sorting facts from myths
Siri Leknes, NorwaySiri Leknes is a professor of social and affective neuroscience at the University of Oslo, Norway, and senior researcher at Oslo University Hospital. She completed her D.Phil. at Oxford, United Kingdom, and postdoctoral research at Gothenburg University, Sweden.
L.A.B. (Leknes Affective Brain) lab specialises in drug studies, charting how the brain’s neurochemical systems shape hedonic feelings, decisions and behaviour. Leknes is currently funded by an ERC grant to study state-dependent effects of opioids and their relation to social support, stress and dopamine. In addition, L.A.B lab conducts clinical research, studying mood, stress and pain in groups treated with opioid agonists and antagonists.
Leknes’ work on the benefits of acute pain was awarded The Daniel M. Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize in social/personality psychology. She has served as associate editor for social cognitive affective neuroscience and is now associate editor for pain. She is also the President of the Society for social neuroscience.

Elaine Hsiao, USA
The microbiome and neurodevelopment: current understanding and future needs
Elaine Hsiao, USAElaine Hsiao is director of the UCLA Goodman-Luskin microbiome center and De Logi associate professor of biological sciences in the department of integrative biology and physiology, where she leads a laboratory studying fundamental interactions between the microbiome, brain, and behavior, and their applications to neurological disorders. Inspired by the interplay between the microbiota and nervous system, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment, and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. Their discoveries have led to several honors, including the Blavatnik National Award in life sciences, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and New York Academy of sciences innovators in science award, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Ben Barres career award, Packard Fellowship in science and engineering, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in neuroscience, Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship in neuroscience, Kavli Fellowship of the National Academy of sciences, national Institutes of health director’s early independence award, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in science and healthcare, and National Geographic’s emerging explorer award. Elaine received her Ph.D. in neurobiology from Caltech, and her B.S. in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics from UCLA.

Erin Schuman, GermanyErin Schuman, Germany
Brain Prize Lecture — Protein supply and demand at synapsesThe Brain Prize
Erin Schuman was born in California. She did her undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral studies at the University of Southern California, Princeton and Stanford, respectively. In 1993, she joined Caltech’s Biology Faculty and was an HHMI investigator from 1997-2009. In 2009, she moved with her husband Gilles Laurent to Frankfurt, Germany to found the new Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. She is a member of EMBO, and the German and U.S. National Academies of Science. In 2020 she was awarded the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine and the FENS-Kavli-ALBA Diversity Prize. In 2022 and 2023, she was awarded the EMBO-FEBS Women in Science prize, the Rosenstiel Prize and the Brain Prize. Erin has a long standing interest in the molecular and cell biological processes that control protein synthesis and degradation in neurons. Following on the lab’s initial discovery in 1996 that proteins made locally in dendrites are required for synaptic plasticity, they have pursued the identification of the mRNA and ribosome population present in neuronal dendrites and axons- with the goal of understanding protein supply and demand at synapses.

The world’s largest brain research prize is awarded annually by the Lundbeck Foundation. Each year, they award 10 million DKK (approx. 1,3 million EUR) to one or more neuroscientists who have made a ground-breaking impact on brain research. The Brain Prize has been awarded to 44 scientists from 9 different countries. More info

Ann M. Graybiel, USA
Neurobiology of motivation and decision making
Ann Graybiel, USAAnn M. Graybiel is an institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of technology, where she and her laboratory are actively investigating neural circuits related to the basal ganglia and to a range of neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders. Her work is centered on understanding the functions of circuits leading from mood-related parts of the frontal neocortex through the striatum to the dopamine-containing neurons of the midbrain. This work took its origin in her discovery of neurochemically distinct compartments in the striatum, which she named ‘striosomes’. These are now known to provide all or nearly all striatal input to the dopamine-containing neurons of the midbrain. These circuits strongly bias decision-making made under motivationally challenging conditions, as though inducing optimistic or pessimistic state changes. They can strongly modulate responses to stress and levels of engagement across age, and levels of reinforcement-based learning. Her group is now harnessing molecular and genetic markers in functional work of these and related circuits of the striatal matrix, with the goal of contributing to clinical medicine as well as to fundamental understanding of the brain.