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****Snowbird Symposium Fall 2021: CANCELLED****

"Neuromodulation: Natural and artificial calibrators of the brain"

October 29, 2021
Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Click here to Register for the Symposium (REGISTRATION IS CLOSED)


(If you are attending the Symposium, you must also register for the meeting)

Poster session 2018
poster session #2 2018


9:00AM-12:00PM SCIENTIFIC SESSION I (Cliff Lodge, Ballrooms 1&2)
12:00-1:45PM Lunch (Cliff Lodge, Magpie Room)
1:45-5:00PM SCIENTIFIC SESSION II (Cliff Lodge, Ballrooms 1&2)
5:00-6:30PM Poster session and mixer (Cliff Lodge, Primrose Lobby; Ballroom Mezzanine); sponsored by the SfN Intermountain Chapter;

Hard Deadline: TBD, 5:00PM. ABSTRACT submittal 
6:30-8:00PM Dinner, Cliff Lodge, Primrose
8:00-9:00PM Keynote Speaker
9:30-11:00PM Mixer, Cliff Lodge, Primrose



KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Elisa Konofagou, Ph.D.; Robert and Margaret Hariri Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology (Physics),  Columbia University

Elisa Konofagou

Title: "Central and peripheral neuromodulation using focused ultrasound"

Research Summary: Elisa E. Konofagou designs and develops ultrasound-based technologies for automated estimation of tissue mechanics as well as drug delivery and therapeutics. Her group has worked on the design of algorithms that can estimate minute deformation as a result of physiological function, such as in the heart and vessels, and displacements induced by the ultrasound wave itself, such as in tumors and nerves, while she maintains several collaborations with physicians in order to translate these technologies to the clinical setting. She has also developed novel techniques in order to facilitate noninvasive brain drug delivery as well as modulation of both the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Of particular interest to Konofagou are high-precision speckle tracking techniques that allow estimation of mechanical and electromechanical motion in soft tissues in vivo such as the heart, the aorta, the carotid, the breast, and the pancreas. Strain estimation is optimized and related to the underlying mechanical properties of the tissues in vivo.  Her group has pioneered methods such as Myocardial Elastography, Electromechanical Wave Imaging, Pulse Wave Imaging, and Harmonic Motion Imaging for the noninvasive early detection and screening of the early onset of cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction as well as detection, monitoring, and generation of ablative therapy for noninvasive, extracorporeal tumor treatment, respectively. Her work encompasses unveiling of the mechanism of ultrasound-induced opening of the blood-brain barrier for facilitation of noninvasive and localized brain drug delivery while developing novel methodologies for noninvasive and deep brain stimulation as well as peripheral nerve modulation for the treatment of psychiatric and motor neuron diseases.

Speaker: Monica Dus, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan

Monica Dus

Title: "Sugar Coated: The Effects of Diet on Brain Physiology & Behavior"

Research Summary: Humans have known for millennia that nutrition has a profound influence on health and disease, but it is only recently that we have begun mapping the mechanisms via which the dietary environment impacts brain physiology and behavior. I will present data showing how high dietary sugar reshapes sensory and reward circuits by engaging metabolic-epigenetic pathways.

 Speaker: Garret Stuber, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, and Pharmacology; Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain, and Emotion, University of Washington

Garret Stuber

Title: "Neural Circuits for Motivation and Reward"

Research Summary: In order to survive and effectively navigate an ever-changing and unpredictable environment, animals must readily adapt their behavior to seek out needed resources, while simultaneously avoiding life-threatening situations.  These opposing processes are controlled by neural circuitry that is readily engaged by both environmental and physiological factors to promote behavioral output.   The work of my lab studies the neural circuits that control both reward and aversive-related behavioral responses.  By utilizing optogenetics, calcium imaging, and single cell sequencing, we aim to delineate the functional interactions between molecularly distinct neuronal populations that are critical for the generation of these critical behavioral states.  A holistic understanding of the interconnected neural circuit elements that mediate diverse motivational behaviors will provide important insight into a variety of complex neurological and neuropsychiatric illnesses such as addiction, pain, and emotional disorders.

Speaker: Diego Restrepo, Ph.D., Professor, Department of  Cell and Developmental Biology; Co-Director, Center for Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Anschutz

Diego RestrepoTitle: "TBA"

Research Summary:Dr. Restrepo is a systems neuroscientist and the goal of his research is to understand how brain circuits mediate decision making to complex sensory input. The Restrepo lab studies how sensory processing areas of the olfactory and somatosensory systems handle information relevant to decision-making, and how they interact with downstream regions such as piriform cortex and amygdala. In addition, they also study the circuit basis for behavioral deficits in mild demyelination and neurodevelopmental disorders. His group employs an interdisciplinary approach to answer these questions. They use awake behaving high density electrical recording, advanced microscopy, closed loop optogenetics and computational neuroscience. His group is also involved in developing novel approaches to study circuit functions. This includes a miniature fiber coupled microscope for recording and holographic optogenetic modification of neural activity and a C-DSLM to survey oligodendrocytes.

Speaker: Adam Douglass, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurobiology, University of Utah

Adam Douglas

Title: "Oxytocinergic control of pain defense in larval zebrafish"

Research Summary: The Douglass Lab exploits the relative simplicity of the larval zebrafish brain to understand how neurons that produce the neuromodulators dopamine and oxytocin shape locomotion, pain processing, learning, and social behavior, and in the process derive general principles for the operation of modulatory circuits. The lab is also interested in developing novel model organisms to study complex behavior. Using Danionella translucida, a zebrafish relative that is optically transparent even in adulthood, they are developing imaging and optogenetic techniques to study social behavior, reward learning, and other important phenomena that are not traditionally accessible with larva zebrafish.

Speaker: Brian J. Mickey, MD, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of  Psychiatry, University of Utah

Brian Mickey

Title: "Targeting Addiction with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation"

Research Summary: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) involves the modulation of brain function by applying pulses of magnetic energy.  TMS was initially used to study cortical neurophysiology, but in recent years it has been developed into a tool to probe the neural basis of human cognition, and established as an effective therapeutic intervention for depression.  Could TMS be used for other neuropsychiatric disorders?  Among the major substance use disorders, stimulant addictions represent a critical area of need, given the lack of evidence-based treatments.  We hypothesize that TMS could be used to reduce drug craving and enhance inhibitory control by modulating prefrontal cortical function.  In a pilot study of TMS for methamphetamine use disorder, we are currently evaluating the feasibility of targeting addiction with TMS.

Speaker: Daria Anderson, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neurosurgery and Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Utah

Daria Anderson

Title: "Cellular and network mechanisms of seizure control through stimulation"

Research Summary: Dr. Daria Anderson is a postdoc for Dr. Rolston in Neurosurgery and Dr. Wilcox in Pharmacology and Toxicology, and she is interested in translational research focused on neuromodulation therapies for epilepsy in human and pre-clinical models. Electrical neuromodulation therapies for epilepsy are the only treatment option for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy and seizure foci in areas that cannot be resected. Understanding of stimulation mechanisms for seizure arrest is lacking, and few patients achieve complete seizure freedom with stimulation therapy. Daria’s research goals are to examine mechanisms of seizure arrest using various stimulation paradigms in hippocampal brain slices prepared from kainic acid-treated mice that model temporal lobe epilepsy. Additionally, she is interested in identifying patient-specific neural circuits that may serve as more effective targets for neuromodulation therapy using pre-surgical electrophysiological data and neuroimaging. Optimizing stimulation for seizure arrest and determining patient-specific functional and structural connectivity metrics that correlate with therapeutic outcomes is necessary to enable future improvements in neuromodulation for epilepsy.


Speaker: Iris Titos, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Medicine Program, University of Utah

Iris Titos

Title: "A gut-secreted peptide controls arousability through modulation of dopaminergic neurons in the brain"

Research Summary: Sensory information is always present in the environment and animals need to internally regulate their responsiveness to fit the context. During sleep, the threshold for sensory arousal is increased so that only stimuli of sufficient magnitude or relevance can cross it. The mechanisms that control arousability are not well understood, but must integrate sensory information with information about physiology. Through a genetic screen, we discovered the role of the neuropeptide CCHa1 and its receptor in regulating responsiveness to mechanical stimulation in the flies. CCHa1 is produced in the secretory cells of the gut in response to a protein-enriched diet. When animals are fed a protein-rich diet, their responsiveness to external stimuli is decreased and they sleep more deeply. We have recently discovered that this phenomenon is conserved from flies to mammals. CCHa1 from the gut activates a small group of dopaminergic neurons in the fly brain in a protein and CCHa1R-dependent manner. We reveal the conserved role of dietary protein in promoting deeper sleep from flies to mammals and use the Drosophila genetic tools to elucidate how nutritional information is conveyed from secretory cells in the gut to dopaminergic neurons in the brain.

Graduate student speakers: 

Aniket Ramshekar: NP graduate student (Hartnett lab): ""

Christine Wnukowski: NP graduate student (Jorgensen lab): ""

Laura Bell: NP graduate student (Wilcox lab): ""

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Last Updated: 8/20/21