A Social Approach to Tackling Zika

Social media has proven itself to be a useful tool for rekindling old friendships, networking for prospective jobs, staying up-to-date in breaking news, and now, mapping the spread of rampant epidemics. With the Zika virus the latest public health threat to make headlines, scientists have been using data from social media, blog posts, news sites, and Google search terms—to name a few—to curate models that help map the spread of the virus.

“This is a field called digital disease detection…Essentially, it tries to be the weather.com for disease outbreak,” said John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. Brownstein was joined by Johns Hopkins Medical School’s Hongjun Song at the latest in a series of Capitol Hill briefings, which took place on July 6, in Washington, DC. Together with the Dana Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has been hosting these public briefings for the last six years.

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September 30 Event: Mental Illness Across the Ages

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Dana Foundation invite you to the third event of the 2015 Neuroscience & Society series, “Mental Illness Across the Ages: From Children, to Adolescents, to Middle Age and the Elderly.”

Held in DC at the AAAS auditorium on September 30, the event will focus on what we know about the causes, effects, and treatments of mental illness, from young children, to adolescents, to middle-age and elderly patients.

September 30, 2015 5:30 p.m.
Reception to follow
AAAS Auditorium
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC
Register here


  • Anne Marie Albano, Ph.D., ABPP Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center
  • Colleen L. Barry PhD, MPP Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Nelson B. Freimer, M.D. Maggie G. Gilbert Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director, UCLA Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics

We hope to see you there!

Impacts of Stress on the Young Brain

Children’s brain development and social behavior can suffer when exposed to long-term stress, but early intervention can help, said two neuroscientists at the July Capitol Hill briefing, “Violence, Stress and Child Development.” The event was organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) through the support of the Dana Foundation and in conjunction with Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA).

Dana Alliance members Judy Cameron, Ph.D., and Felton Earls, M.D., discussed their research on the topic at the event: Cameron spoke about how early exposure to stress affects brain development and later, adult behavior and health; Earls discussed a longitudinal study he led in the 90s on risk factors associated with violence in 343 Chicago neighborhoods.

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Stroke Recovery

Time is of the essence when identifying and treating stroke, but at a recent Capitol Hill briefing we heard about new research that’s showing success in stroke rehabilitation even six months after onset. The briefing, organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and supported by the Dana Foundation, was part of a series designed to educate members of Congress and their staffs about issues in neuroscience.

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Brain Mapping

On June 5, three scientists spoke on Capitol Hill about brain mapping research and how the proposed decade-long BRAIN Initiative could impact the neuroscience field. The briefing was part of a series organized by AAAS and supported by the Dana Foundation, designed to educate members of Congress and their staffs about topical issues in neuroscience.

Presenting at the meeting were Dana Alliance member David Van Essen, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Michael Roukes, Ph.D., a professor of physics, applied physics, and bioengineering at California Institute of Technology; and Emery Brown, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of computational neuroscience at MIT.

AAAS reports,

The BRAIN Initiative has been compared to the Human Genome Project (HGP), which successfully identified most of the DNA base pairs that make up human genes, by coordinating researchers and standardizing the technology needed to do so. The BRAIN Initiative would also help standardize technologies for brain observations and make them more widely available, Van Essen said. But unlike the HGP, its work would never really be done. Humans have a finite set of genes, but there is an almost infinite number of ways the brain can be organized. Each person’s brain is folded differently, and has a different pattern of brain wiring. That’s true even for identical twins, who share the same genes, he said.

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