We’re heading off to attend the Society for Neuroscience’s Annual Meeting, which officially starts next Saturday in Washington, DC. Some 30,000 neuroscientists and others will converge in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center – a city’s worth of brain-lovers! Just before that, we’ll be taking in the annual meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS), held at the AAAS Building, just down the street. Stay tuned for posts and photos from both. Here’s some of what we’re looking forward to; many of the non-science sessions this year are on aspects of science communication and outreach.
NOTE: If you’re nearby, some of these events are free and open to the public—come by and say hi!
Thursday, Nov. 9
5:30 pm to 8 pm (Eastern time) “To Tell the Truth!,” a public forum where an international group of experts will discuss how we learn to lie, why some people lie a lot, and the limits on our abilities to detect lies—even when we are lying to ourselves. Come on by if you’re in the DC area: This event, part of the INS meeting at AAAS, is free, but please register.
Friday, Nov. 10
We’ll be at the whole day of INS events at AAAS, with topics including neuroscience and the law, ethically developing consumer neurotechnologies, and understanding our social behavior. Follow along via Twitter hashtag #INS17.
Saturday, Nov. 11
11 am to 1 pm: Siddhartha Mukherjee of Columbia University will give SfN’s annual “non-scientist” talk, part of a series called Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society. The author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer and The Gene: An Intimate History, he plans to talk about his work and the importance of communicating the promise of scientific inquiry to everyone. This is a public talk; to check it out in person go to the Attendee Services counter in the East Salon of the convention center and get a free pass. In past years, SfN also has posted videos of these talks, so stay tuned for that. The talk will be in the Convention Center’s gargantuan Hall D.
2:30 pm to 4 pm: Brain Awareness Campaign Event: Check out posters and presentations on how to run great Brain Awareness Week (BAW) events and meet the winners of the Brain Awareness Video Contest, the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience award, and the National Science Olympiad. Also hear from Jayatri Das, chief bioscientist at the Franklin Institute, on how museums can be channels for connecting scientists to new audiences through neuroscience outreach. Convention Center, Hall E.
Sunday, Nov. 12
1 pm to 3 pm: This year’s Social Issues Roundtable is “Engaging Neuroscientists in Dialogue with Religious Communities.” Panelists will explore how the underlying values and assumptions in scientific research intersect with those of various faiths. Convention Center, Room 201.
Monday, Nov. 13
10 am to 11:10 am: The Kopf Lecture on Neuroethics is on “The Fallacy of Fairness: Diversity in Academic Science” Jo Handelsman will remind us that scientists, too, carry unconscious biases about other people that affect how we consider them and their work, and describe methods and best practices to reduce the effects of bias in research design and execution. Convention Center, Hall D.
5:15 pm: Just ahead of the Presidential lecture, SfN will announce the winner of the 2017 Science Educator Outreach Award. (The Dana Foundation sponsors this award.) Convention Center, Hall D.
Tuesday, Nov. 15
2:30 pm to 4 pm: This year’s Public Advocacy Forum is “Advocating for Basic Science in a Disease-Focused World.” Panelists will offer tips on how to frame the argument that we should fund science projects all along the spectrum from basic research through public health. This is a public forum; to check it out in person go to the Attendee Services counter in the East Salon of the convention center and get a free pass. Convention Center, Room 201.
2:30 pm to 3:30 pm: I love the History of Neuroscience lecture every year, and this year sounds really special: Pasko Rakic on “Neuronal Migration and Brain Map Formation During Evolution, Development, and Disease.” He starts the abstract describing this talk with “I have attended 47 SfN meetings and have witnessed enormous advances made in methods, levels of analyses and understanding various conceptual and biomedical issues in the neurosciences.” No doubt! (Rakic is also a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.) Sadly, this overlaps with the advocacy forum, so meeting attendees will have a tough choice to make. Convention Center, Hall D.
5:15 pm to 6:30 pm: Steven Hyman will give a presidential special lecture called “What Does the Fiendish Genetic Complexity of Schizophrenia Portend for the Future of Neuroscience?” Many disorders besides schizophrenia appear to be linked to multiple genes; Hyman (also a DABI member) argues it’s time to “embrace polygenicity” in our approach to studying these disorders. Convention Center, Hall D.
Lots of folks last year were active on Twitter, and I expect the same this year; follow along via hashtags #SfN17 and #INS17. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, @dana_fdn, and on Facebook, danafoundation.
– Nicky Penttila