Dana Alliance Members in Conversation: A Q&A with Eric Nestler

We spoke to neuroscientist and former Society for Neuroscience president Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., about the bipartisan nature of biomedical research, his hopes for the future of addiction and depression, new findings on stress and depression, and more in the latest Dana Alliance member Q&A. These Q&As are part of a regular series of in-depth interviews that give readers a look into the outreach, research, and interests of the preeminent neuroscientists that make up the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.

On why his institution, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, prioritizes outreach, Nestler said:

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Exploring the Personal Side of Science

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A collegiate swim team, uncontrollable diarrhea, an uncle’s drum solo, green Jell-O, and getting lost in the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, may seem like unlikely elements at a Brain Awareness Week event. But not at the annual “Studying the Brain: A Storytelling Event hosted by The Friedman Brain Institute,” which highlights personal stories from Mount Sinai students, fellows, and professors. Five brainy participants stepped out of the lab and classroom and onto the stage of El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 in Manhattan, to share real life events that unexpectedly influenced their scientific journeys. Paula Croxson, assistant professor of neuroscience and psychiatry and the 2018 SfN Science Educator Award recipient, and Casey Lardner, Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience, hosted the BraiNY event.

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Brain Awareness Week 2018

Guest post by Urooj Ansari, Social Media Chair at Be Brainy NYC

In 2012, Be Brainy NYC, the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, held its first Brain Awareness Week. Launched by Ho Yu of Columbia University, the chapter was expanded by Heather McKellar of NYU, Paula Croxson of Mount Sinai, Kelley Remole of Columbia University, Ted Altschuler of Baruch College, and Heather Bowling, formerly of NYU. The earliest members, graduate school friends and colleagues from their respective institutions, met at the Dana Foundation’s office to organize their first events.

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Six years later, Be Brainy NYC is still true to its original mission of bringing brain science to the public. With a variety of events beginning next week, individuals from every age group and background imaginable will find activities in the city where they can learn about the squishy two-pound mass encased within their skulls.

One of the first events this year, and the newest one on the calendar, is the “Rap Guide to Consciousness.” With the use of hip hop comedy, “peer-reviewed rapper” Baba Brinkman will explore consciousness in an event for adults. The show will be held every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night through April at the Soho Playhouse.

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Science in Storytelling

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Wednesday night’s Story Collider x braiNY event provided audience members with five stories from five accomplished scientists of the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, all of whom had participated in a six week storytelling workshop.

The event took place in the charming lower level of El Bario’s Artspace in East Harlem, where brick walls, black curtains, and bright lights alluded to a crowded comedy night. And the storytellers did not disappoint–their recounts and anecdotes poked fun at either themselves or their situations in an endearing and hilarious way, garnering laughter from the audience throughout the night. But the event offered more than just humor; many of the stories took on a more serious tone as the night continued.

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braiNY Events in NYC Next Week

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Want to touch a real human brain? Take a yoga class and then learn about how meditation affects the brain? Or perhaps a brain-themed game night is more up your alley? Why not do all three?!

Next week is Brain Awareness Week (March 14-20), and to celebrate the brain, more than 20 fun and fascinating public events will be held around New York City, coordinated by the New York Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, under the name “braiNY.” Most of the events are free; some do require purchasing a ticket.

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