There is really nothing quite like the excited hum of science at a conference. You can hear it in the conversations during a poster session, feel it in the room as new results are presented for the first time, and sense it as opportunities for collaboration are discovered. We are so looking forward to the fifth annual Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative Investigators Meeting, when approximately 1,500 scientists from many disciplines will generate this hum from April 11-13, 2019 at the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington, DC. This meeting, which has been growing each year, convenes BRAIN Initiative awardees, staff, and leadership from the contributing federal agencies (NIH, NSF, DARPA, IARPA, and FDA), as well as representatives and investigators from participating non-federal organizations, members of the media, public, and Congress. This open meeting provides a forum for discussing exciting scientific developments and potential new directions, and to identify areas for collaboration and research coordination.
This year’s meeting features an exciting program of events, including plenary sessions from an excellent set of speakers: Dr. Paola Arlotta (Harvard University). Dr. Patricia Churchland (University of California), Dr. Marcus Meister (California Institute of Technology), and Dr. Edvard Moser (Kavli Institute for Neuroscience). On Thursday, April 11, the NIH Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0 and BRAIN Neuroethics Subgroup will hold a Town Hall, moderated by NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. Please join me there, when the co-chairs of both groups – Drs. Catherine Dulac, John Maunsell, Jim Eberwine, and Jeff Kahn – will gather public input as they prepare to release a draft report of their findings for public comment. All of these sessions will be videocast and archived for those who are unable to attend in person, and will be available for streaming on the NIH Videocast website.
For the first time at this year’s meeting, attendee-organized symposia will highlight emerging areas of focus in BRAIN. Some of these topics will include: Bridging Animal and Human Brain Research with fMRI, Emerging Technologies in Studying Spinal Cord Circuitry and Dynamics, Advances in Mapping Neural Connectivity, and Neuropharmacology at the Age of the BRAIN Cell-Census. Along with these symposia, Research Highlight Talks will provide platforms for BRAIN Initiative awardees to discuss their latest scientific advances. Additionally, Focused Sessions will provide forum opportunities for those interested in specialized topics, such as the BRAIN Initiative Informatics Infrastructure and Frontiers of Non-Invasive Brain Imaging.
We are especially excited that the 2019 Meeting will also feature a three-part science communications series. On Thursday, April 11, NPR’s Jon Hamilton will lead a workshop on talking to the public about BRAIN science. On Friday, April 12, Betsy Stark, an Emmy Award winning journalist and former ABC News Business Correspondent, will lead a workshop on talking to the media about BRAIN science. Finally, on Saturday, April 13, Rohan Verma, Vice President at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, will lead a workshop on using social media to promote BRAIN science. Make sure to reserve your spot!
For those with an artistic eye, this spring offered an exciting opportunity for researchers engaged in the BRAIN Initiative to submit their most eye-catching scientific images for the Show Us Your BRAINS! Cool Picture & Video Contest. Top entries will be posted online for a public vote, and the winners will be announced at the meeting on Saturday, April 13, with prizes! As research technologies have continued to rapidly advance, these images and videos never cease to capture the wonder and beauty inherent to the exploration of the brain.
NIH, including the ten Institutes and Centers supporting The BRAIN Initiative®, is proud to host this free event. It’s a great chance to learn about the latest advances in understanding neural circuits, to catch up with colleagues and collaborators, to speak with BRAIN awardees, and to meet trainees, and to network with investigators from a variety of scientific fields spanning mathematics, engineering, physics, chemistry, and biology. For more information about the 2019 BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting, please visit the meeting website. Registration is free and will be available on-site. See you in Washington!