MIT SUMMIT SPEAKERS
Paola Arlotta, PhD
Paola Arlotta is the Golub Family Professor and Chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. Her work aims at understanding the molecular laws that govern the birth, differentiation, and assembly into working circuitry of neuronal diversity in the cerebral cortex. She strives to integrate developmental and evolutionary knowledge to inform novel strategies for circuit repair in the cortex and for modeling of neuropsychiatric disease in vitro using brain organoids. Arlotta received her M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Trieste, Italy and her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Portsmouth, UK. She subsequently completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. Arlotta is the recipient of many awards, including the 2017 George Ledlie Prize from Harvard, The Fannie Cox Prize for excellence in science teaching, and the 2018 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation.
Matt Botvinick, MD, PhD
Matthew Botvinick is Director of Neuroscience Research at DeepMind and Honorary Professor at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London. Dr. Botvinick completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University in 1989 and medical studies at Cornell University in 1994, before completing a PhD in psychology and cognitive neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001. He served as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania until 2007 and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University until joining DeepMind in 2016. Dr. Botvinick’s work at DeepMind straddles the boundaries between cognitive psychology, computational and experimental neuroscience and artificial intelligence.
Ed Boyden, PhD
Ed Boyden is Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology at MIT, associate professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT's Media Lab and McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and was recently selected to be an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2018). He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain, and applies them systematically to reveal ground truth principles of biological function as well as to repair these systems. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision; optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light; robotic methods for single-cell analysis and directed evolution that are yielding new synthetic biology reagents for dynamic imaging of physiological signals; and, novel methods of focal noninvasive human brain stimulation. He co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.
Amongst other recognitions, he has received the Canada Gairdner International Award (2018), the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013), the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013), the NIH Director's Transformative Research Award (three times, 2012, 2013, and 2017), and the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2011). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013) and the Technology Review World’s "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" list (2006), and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017), the National Academy of Inventors (2017), and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2018).
Judson Brewer, MD, PhD
Jud Brewer MD PhD is a thought leader in the field of habit change and the “science of self-mastery”, having combined over 20 years of experience with mindfulness training with his scientific research therein. He is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University. He also is a research affiliate at MIT. A psychiatrist and internationally known expert in mindfulness training for addictions, Brewer has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including both in-person and app-based treatments for smoking, emotional eating, and anxiety (www.goeatrightnow.com, www.unwindinganxiety.com, www.cravingtoquit.com). He has also studied the underlying neural mechanisms of mindfulness using standard and real-time fMRI and EEG neurofeedback. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, trained US Olympic coaches, and his work has been featured on 60 Minutes, TED (4th most viewed talk of 2016, with 10+ Million views), Time magazine (top 100 new health discoveries of 2013), Forbes, BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera (documentary about his research), Businessweek and others. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association, among others.
Dr. Brewer founded MindSciences to move his discoveries of clinical evidence behind mindfulness for anxiety, eating, smoking and other behavior change into the hands of consumers. He is the author of The Craving Mind: from cigarettes to smartphones to love, why we get hooked and how we can break bad habits (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).
Emery Brown, MD, PhD
Computational neuroscientist and anesthesiologist Emery Brown explores one of medicine’s big mysteries—exactly what happens to your brain under anesthesia. Emery believes the answers to this question could have profound implications, addressing everything from the nature of consciousness to improving the specificity of anesthetic drugs, and leading to new treatments for chronic pain, depression, and insomnia. Emery practices anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and holds a joint appointment as Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Medical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience at MIT. He also co-directs the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program. When not studying neural signals of others under the influence of anesthesia, Emery enjoys challenging his own brain by speaking several Romance languages.
Kwanghun Chung, PhD
Kwanghun Chung is currently the Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, as well as a Core Member of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES). He is also a Core Member of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Seoul National University in 2005, and then moved to Georgia Institute of Technology for his Ph.D. training under the mentorship of Dr. Hang Lu, where he developed automated and integrated microsystems for high-throughput imaging, molecular/behavioral phenotyping, and cell microsurgery of a broad range of living systems. Following his graduation in 2009, Dr. Chung joined the Karl Deisseroth Lab at Stanford University for post-doctoral training in 2010, where he invented a novel technology termed CLARITY, which enables system-wide structural and molecular analysis of large-scale intact biological samples. In 2013, Dr. Chung established his independent group at MIT and has been leading an interdisciplinary team to develop and apply novel technologies for holistic understanding of large-scale complex biological systems. Chung was the recipient of the Mcknight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award 2016, the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering Award 2015, the NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2015, the Yumin Awards for Creativity 2014, the Searle Scholars Award 2014, and the BWF Career Award at the Scientific Interface 2012.
George Church, PhD
George Church is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of PersonalGenomes.org, which provides the world's only open-access information on human Genomic, Environmental & Trait data (GET). His 1984 Harvard PhD included the first methods for direct genome sequencing, molecular multiplexing & barcoding. These led to the first genome sequence (pathogen, Helicobacter pylori) in 1994 . His innovations have contributed to nearly all "next generation" DNA sequencing methods and companies (CGI-BGI, Life, Illumina, Nanopore). This plus his lab's work on chip-DNA-synthesis, gene editing and stem cell engineering resulted in founding additional application-based companies spanning fields of medical diagnostics ( Knome/PierianDx, Alacris, AbVitro/Juno, Genos, Veritas Genetics ) & synthetic biology / therapeutics ( Joule, Gen9, Editas, Egenesis, enEvolv, WarpDrive ). He has also pioneered new privacy, biosafety, ELSI, environmental & biosecurity policies. He is director of an IARPA BRAIN Project and NIH Center for Excellence in Genomic Science. His honors include election to NAS & NAE & Franklin Bower Laureate for Achievement in Science. He has coauthored 480 papers, 130 patent publications & one book (Regenesis).
Luis de Lecea, PhD
Dr. de Lecea received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Barcelona and conducted postdoctoral research at the Scripps Research Institute in the lab of Dr. Greg Sutcliffe. During his postdoc, Dr. de Lecea discovered the cortical neuromodulator cortistatin and the hypothalamic hypocretin system. During the past decade he has held faculty positions at the Scripps Research Institute and Stanford University, where he has characterized the role of hypocretins in various mammalian behaviors. Recently, his lab has applied optogenetic techniques to directly modulate neurons that produce hypocretins and other neuromodulators to elucidate their role in behaviors, especially sleep/wake maintenance, stress, and reward.
Juan Enriquez, MBA, BA
Juan Enriquez is a business leader, author, and academic recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the economic and political impacts of life sciences. As Managing Director at Excel Venture Management, he is an investor in early-stage private companies in the biotechnology, brain, and information sciences sectors. Juan has published extensively on future trends, won a McKinsey Prize, and is author and co-author of various bestsellers including As the Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces are Changing Your Life, Work, Health & Wealth (Random House, 2001), an analysis of the impact of genomics on business and society, and his latest book Evolving Ourselves: Redesigning the Future of Humanity- One Gene at a Time (Penguin, 2015). He was the founding director of Harvard Business School’s Life Sciences Project and then founded Biotechonomy.
Juan serves on a number of for-profit and non-profit boards including The Harvard Medical School Genetics Advisory Council, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the President’s Council National Academy of Sciences, The Boston Science Museum, WGBH, and Questbridge. He earned a BA and MBA, with Honors, from Harvard.
Amit Etkin, MD, PhD
Amit Etkin, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, a member of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, and an Investigator at the Palo Alto VA. He has received multiple awards, most notably the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2017, for groundbreaking work in clinical psychiatry and neuroscience. Dr. Etkin is trained as both as a neuroscientist and psychiatrist, having received his MD/PhD under the mentorship of a Nobel Laureate. The overarching aim of the Etkin lab is to understand the neural basis of emotional disorders and their treatment, and to leverage this knowledge to better understand how the brain works and to develop novel treatment interventions. In support of this goal, Dr. Etkin also collaborates with neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, physicians and others to establish a new intellectual, scientific and clinical paradigm for understanding and manipulating human brain circuits in healthy individuals and for treating psychiatric diseases including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Building on his Pioneer Award-recognized research, he is presently developing a true “Brain Vitals” approach for assessing the brains of patients over time, engineering new and more powerful methods for non-invasive brain stimulation, and establishing predictive neuro-signals for understanding who responds to what treatment in psychiatry. Dr. Etkin collaborates with investigators across multiple continents on these efforts and is committed to scaling his neuroscience insights from the lab into clinics worldwide. He also engages heavily within an academic-industry ecosystem aimed at transforming the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Guoping Feng, PhD
Guoping Feng is the Poitras Professor of Neuroscience in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the Director of Model Systems and Neurobiology at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Feng’s research is devoted to understanding molecular mechanisms regulating neuron-neuron communications in the brain and how defects in neuronal communication contribute to psychiatric disorders. Using genetically engineered animal models, Dr. Feng’s laboratory combines cutting-edge technologies and multidisciplinary approaches to unravel the neurobiological mechanisms of autism, OCD and schizophrenia. Dr. Feng has won numerous awards for his scientific achievements including Beckman Young Investigator Award, Gill Young Investigator Award, McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award, McKnight Technology Innovation Award, and Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award. Dr. Feng studied medicine at Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, China. He obtained his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo and postdoctoral training at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining the faculty at MIT, he was a faculty member in the Department of Neurobiology, Duke University School of Medicine.’
Helen Fisher, PhD
Helen Fisher, PhD Biological Anthropologist, is Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute; and Chief Science Advisor to Match.com. She uses brain scanning (fMRI) to study the neural foundations of romantic love, attachment, rejection in love, love addiction and long-term partnership happiness. She has written six internationally best-selling books on mate choice, romantic love, marriage, gender differences in the brain and the evolution and future of the family, including: ANATOMY OF LOVE (2ND ed); WHY WE LOVE; and WHY HIM? WHY HER?. Fisher is currently studying the biological basis of personality--using fMRI and data collected from her questionnaire, the Fisher Temperament Inventory, taken by 14 million people in 40 countries. With these data, she shows how individuals of four primary temperament dimension are predisposed to think, work, innovate and lead. Her personality questionnaire has been called “a disruptive technology” and “the next Myers-Briggs.” Helen is the co-founder of a new business consulting company, NEUROCOLOR.
Fisher’s lectures include speeches at: The World Economic Forum (Davos), the G20, TED, the International Monetary Fund, The Aspen Institute, The United Nations, The Economist, USA Today/Gannet, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, National Press Club, American Society of Newspaper Editors, General Electric, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, VISA, American Express, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Salk Institute, the United States Air Force Academy, The American Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian Institution, the American Psychiatric Association, and many other business, academic, museum and town hall conferences in the United States and abroad. Fisher is a TED All-Star with over 11 million views of her TED talks, a recipient of the American Anthropological Association’s Distinguished Service Award for her work at presenting anthropological data to the public; and chosen in 2015 by Business Insider as one of “The Fifteen Most Amazing Women in Science.”
John Gabrieli, PhD
John Gabrieli is Director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute. He is an Investigator at the Institute, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship. He also has appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is Director of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative.
Prior to joining MIT in 2005, he spent 14 years at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences Program. He received a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a B.A. in English from Yale University. In 2016 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Michael Halassa, MD, PhD
Michael Halassa’s research is focused on the neural basis of cognitive control and flexibility, particularly in attention and decision-making. At a party, for example, it may be possible to talk to one person, but selectively listen to a different conversation happening nearby. It is this ability to switch our attention with agility that Halassa studies in his lab. He has developed behavioral models of cognitive function in mice, allowing him to probe the underlying neural circuits and computations using behaviorial analysis, electrophysiology, and genetics. His work has revealed a new role for the thalamus – once considered a simple relay station for sensory information – in initiating, sustaining and switching cognitive representations. He also studies how attention and cognitive flexibility are disrupted in disorders including schizophrenia, autism, and ADHD.
Halassa is a board-certified psychiatrist with fellowship training in psychotic disorders. Motivated by this clinical training, Halassa studies how the brain generates hypotheses about the world and how these hypotheses may be corrupted by disease processes. Halassa suggests that an inability to switch between different hypotheses may be at the root of schizophrenia and related disorders. For example, individuals with schizophrenia may make assumptions about the world that are highly improbable, and have difficulty updating such beliefs, even in the presence of concrete information. By developing perceptual tasks in animals that capture the underlying basic cognitive operations, the Halassa Lab aims to understand how the healthy brain generates such hypotheses and why the diseased brain has difficulty changing or revising them.
Hugh Herr, MS, PhD
Hugh Herr directs the Biomechatronics group at The MIT Media Lab. His research program seeks to advance technologies that promise to accelerate the merging of body and machine, including device architectures that resemble the body's musculoskeletal design, actuator technologies that behave like muscle, and control methodologies that exploit principles of biological movement. His methods encompass a diverse set of scientific and technological disciplines, from the science of biomechanics and biological movement control to the design of biomedical devices for the treatment of human physical disability.
His research accomplishments in science and technology have already made a significant impact on physically challenged people. The Transfemoral Quasipassive Knee Prosthesis has been commercialized by Össur Inc., and is now benefiting amputees throughout the world. In 2006, he founded the company iWalk Inc. to commercialize the Powered Ankle-Foot Prosthesis and other bionic leg devices. Professor Herr’s work impacts a number of academic communities. He has given numerous invited and plenary lectures at international conferences and colloquia, including the IVth World Congress of Biomechanics, the International Conference on Advanced Prosthetics, the National Assembly of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, World Economic Forum, Google Zeitgeist, Digital Life Design, and the TEDMED Conference. He is Associate Editor for the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, and has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Experimental Biology, the International Journal of Robotics Research, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, and the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. In 2007, He was presented with the 13th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. His work has been featured by various national and international media, including Scientific American Frontiers, Technology Review, National Geographic, the History Channel, and CNN.
Reid Hoffman, MSt
An accomplished entrepreneur, executive, and investor, Reid Hoffman has played an integral role in building many of today’s leading consumer technology businesses. In 2003 he co-founded LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking service. In 2009 he joined Greylock Partners. He currently serves on the boards of Airbnb, Apollo Fusion, Aurora, Coda, Convoy, Entrepreneur First, Gixo, Microsoft, Nauto, Xapo, and a few early stage companies still in stealth. In addition, he serves on a number of not-for-profit boards, including Kiva, Endeavor, CZI Biohub, Do Something, Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Initiative, and the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change. He is the host of Masters of Scale, an original podcast series and the first American media program to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for featured guests. He is the co-author of two New York Times best-selling books: The Start-Up of You and The Alliance. His new book is Blitzscaling, based on his Stanford course of the same name. He is an Aspen Institute Crown Fellow, a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, and a graduate of Stanford University.
David Hong, MD
Dr. Hong earned his BA at Yale University and his MD at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed his clinical training in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he also served as chief fellow and completed a T32 research postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Hong has recieved recognition for his research through several awards and fellowships, including support from R01 and K23 grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, Children's Health Research Institute, AACAP, APIRE/Lilly Psychiatric Research Fellowship from the American Psychiatric Association, among others. Dr. Hong is also the Associate Director of Clinical Neuroscience in the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research (CIBSR), a large multidisciplinary research center focused on providing explanatory models for complex relationships between the brain, genes, cognition, and behavior. In this capacity, Dr. Hong also is co-director of the Executive Function Clinic and the Neuroendocrine and Sex Chromosome Aneuploidy Clinic at Stanford, leading an interdisciplinary treatment team focused on the evaluation of cognitive and behavioral functions across the lifespan and spanning diagnostic categories, including ADHD, learning disorders and neuroendocrine conditions. Much of Dr. Hong's clinical and research initiatives focus on translating mechanistic aspects of cognition, behavior, and biological variables such as sex, genetics and hormonal factors, to better understand clinical outcomes in children and adolescents.
Keith Humphreys, PhD
Keith Humphreys is a Professor and the Section Director for Mental Health Policy in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Health Services Research Center in Palo Alto and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London. His research addresses the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders, the formation of public policy and the extent to which subjects in medical research differ from patients seen in everyday clinical practice.
For his work in the multinational humanitarian effort to rebuild the psychiatric care system of Iraq and in the national redesign of the VA health system's mental health services for Iraq war veterans, he won the 2009 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Public Interest. He and the authors of "Drug Policy and the Public Good" won the 2010 British Medical Association's Award for Public Health Book of the Year. Dr. Humphreys has been extensively involved in the formation of public policy, having served as a member of the White House Commission on Drug Free Communities, the VA National Mental Health Task Force, and the National Advisory Council of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. During the Obama Administration, he spent a sabbatical year as Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He has also testified on numerous occasions in Parliament and advises multiple government agencies in the U.K.
Tom Kalil, JD
Tom served in the White House for two Presidents (Obama and Clinton), helping to design and launch national science and technology initiatives in areas such as nanotechnology, the BRAIN initiative, data science, materials by design, robotics, commercial space, high-speed networks, access to capital for startups, high-skill immigration, STEM education, learning technology, startup ecosystems, and the federal use of incentive prizes.
From 2001 to 2008, Kalil was Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Science and Technology at UC Berkeley. He launched a program called Big Ideas@Berkeley, which provide grants to student-led teams committed to solving important problems at home and abroad. In 2007 and 2008, Kalil was the Chair of the Global Health Working Group for the Clinton Global Initiative, where he developed new public and private sector initiatives in areas such as maternal and child health, under-nutrition, and vaccines. Prior to joining the Clinton White House, Tom was a trade specialist at the Washington offices of Dewey Ballantine, where he represented the Semiconductor Industry Association on U.S.-Japan trade issues and technology policy. He also served as the principal staffer to Gordon Moore in his capacity as Chair of the SIA Technology Committee.
Tom received a B.A. in political science and international economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and completed graduate work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Nancy Kanwisher, PhD
Nancy Kanwisher is the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a founding member of the McGovern Institute. She joined the MIT faculty in 1997, and prior to that served on the faculty at UCLA and Harvard University. She has received the National Academy of Sciences Troland Research Award, the Golden Brain Award,m and the Heineken Prize in Cognitive Science. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.
The Kanwisher lab has used brain imaging to identify regions of the brain that play highly specialized roles in perception and cognition, including the perception of faces, places, and bodies, as well as various aspects of social cognition and language processing. Each of these regions can be identified robustly in a short functional scan in essentially every normal subject; they are part of the basic functional organization of the human mind and brain. In ongoing work the Kanwisher lab is working to better characterize the precise computations that occur in each region, to discover new functionally specific brain regions, and to understand how these regions get wired up in development and how they work together to produce cognition.
Gabriel Kreiman, PhD
Gabriel Kreiman is a Professor at Harvard Medical School. He is on faculty at Children's Hospital and the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University. He is Associate Director and Thrust Leader in the Harvard/MIT Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines. He received his MSc and PhD from the California Institute of Technology and pursued postdoctoral work with Professor Poggio at MIT.
The Kreiman laboratory combines behavioral metrics, neurophysiological recordings and computational models to understand cognitive function and to build biologically inspired Artificial Intelligence systems. Kreiman's work has focused on two main themes: (1) understanding the transformation of pixel-like inputs into rich and complex visual percepts; and (2) elucidating the subjectively filters incoming inputs to create lasting narratives that constitute the fabric of our personal experiences and knowledge.
Geoff Ling, MD, PhD
Dr. Ling is an internationally recognized expert in brain health. In addition to his role in several start-up biotechnology companies, Dr. Ling is a Professor of Neurology and Attending Neuro-Critical Care Physician at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions; a Professor of Neurology, Director of the Neurotrauma Laboratory, and the founder of the Center for Military Clinical Neurosciences at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science (USUHS). He is Vice-Chair of Research in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Inova Fairfax Medical Center, Fairfax, VA, where he provides leadership for the research programs in neurosurgery, neurology and physical medicine rehabilitation. He was the founding Director of the Biological Technologies Office at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
While at DARPA, his research efforts included establishing and managing the Prevent Violent Explosive Blast program, which sought to elucidate the mechanisms by which battlefield blast explosions cause brain injury; the Reorganization and Plasticity to Accelerate Injury Recovery program, which developed a predictive quantitative model of brain reorganization during recovery; and the Restoring Active Memory program, which developed technology to restore memory following brain injury. Under President Obama, Dr. Ling served as Assistant Director for Biomedical Innovation, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Executive Office of the President, where he assisted in organizing and launching the President’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative.
Michael McCullough, MD, MSc
Michael McCullough, M.D., M.Sc. is the Founder of BrainMind. He is an EIR at Greylock Partners, impact investor and Partner at Capricorn Healthcare, social entrepreneur, and emergency room professor at UCSF. Michael’s personal interest in the brain extends from a childhood brain hemorrhage which resulted in hydrocephalus and a severe stutter, partially corrected by brain surgery at age 10 and requiring Michael to retrain himself to speak through high school and early college at Stanford. Accomplishing fluent speech also required extensive biofeedback and meditation practice. After returning from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, Michael co-founded QuestBridge during free hours in medical school at UCSF and his surgical residency at Stanford. QuestBridge, a national non-profit, now places more talented low-income students into top colleges like Stanford, Yale, Caltech, and MIT than all other non-profits combined. Michael has since founded or co-founded 12 successful companies and non-profits.
Michael is a founder of RegenMed Systems, a co-founding investor of HeartFlow, and on the founding board of 2U -- all top performing impact investments. Michael also served/serves on the boards of the Metabiota, the Global Leadership Incubator, QuestBridge, and the Dalai Lama Foundation among others, and serves as an on-call ER physician for the Dalai Lama during his visits to the West Coast.
Vinod Menon, PhD
Professor Menon is the Rachel L. and Walter F. Nichols, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and, Professor, by courtesy, of Neurology at Stanford University. He serves as director of Stanford Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Laboratory, which is dedicated to the investigation of human brain function and dysfunction using a multidisciplinary approach that emphasizes a tight integration of cognitive, behavioral, neuroscience and computational methodologies. Students, staff and scientists in his lab come from multiple disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience, biostatistics, biomedical engineering, psychiatry, and neurology to conduct research in a highly interdisciplinary setting. Over the past two decades, Dr. Menon’s research has led to major breakthroughs in our understanding of the architecture, function, and development of these large-scale distributed human brain networks. Leveraging expertise in neuroscience, statistics, engineering, computer science, psychology, psychiatry, and neurology, Dr. Menon and his team were among the first to discover that the human brain is organized into specialized and interacting networks of brain regions, which has resulted in a paradigm shift in how we investigate human brain function and cognition.
Dr. Menon’s lab is now recognized as one of the world’s leading groups in human cognitive and clinical systems neuroscience. His research has been widely reported in the mainstream press, and he has been named an ISI Highly Cited Researcher in Neuroscience (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017; ISI, Thompson Reuters).
Karen Parker, PhD
Dr. Karen Parker is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University where she directs the Social Neurosciences Research Program. Dr. Parker's research expertise is the biology of social functioning, with a particular interest in oxytocin and vasopressin signaling pathways. Her preclinical research program focuses on developing novel monkey models of social impairments; her clinical research program encompasses biomarker discovery and therapeutic testing in patients with autism and other brain disorders. Dr. Parker received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral training at Stanford University. Dr. Parker joined the Stanford faculty in 2007. She is an Affiliate Scientist at the California National Primate Research Center, a Member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a Kavli Fellow of the US National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Parker’s research program has been supported by multiple funding agencies including the NIH, the Simons Foundation, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. Dr. Parker serves on the Editorial Board of Psychoneuroendocrinology, and on various national (e.g., NIH and NSF) and international (e.g., Medical Research Council) grant review committees and scientific panels.
Rosalind Picard, MS, PhD
Dr. Rosalind Picard is an MIT Professor, founder and director of the MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing research group and faculty chair of MIT’s Mind+Hand+Heart Initiative. She is author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles, spanning work on machine learning, signal processing, computer vision, digital health, and AI with emotional intelligence. Picard coined the term “Affective Computing” and is the author of the book that launched this field (MIT Press, 1997), which today has its own international conference and IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing. Named one of seven “Tech SuperHeros to Watch” by CNN, Picard has also co-founded two companies that have commercialized work based on her inventions and patents: Affectiva, Inc., delivering emotion AI technology to help interpret human facial and vocal expressions, and Empatica, Inc., providing wearable AI analytics to improve human health. Empatica built on work from Picard’s lab to create the first FDA-cleared smart watch that runs real-time AI to help monitor seizures.
Picard holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and master’s and doctorate degrees – both in electrical engineering and computer science – from MIT. An inventor and pioneer of affective and wearable computing, Picard has been recognized as a Fellow of the IEEE and elected to the National Academy of Engineering. She has consulted for companies including Apple, iRobot, Merck, and Samsung, and her lab's achievements have been featured in The New York Times, The London Independent, National Public Radio, New Scientist, ABC's World News Tonight, Wired, Time, and Vogue. Picard’s MIT lab creates emotionally smart AI technologies in service of better human health and wellbeing. Today her lab is focused on creating new insights that can keep minds healthy and *prevent* affect-related diseases such as depression.
Thomas Reardon, PhD
Thomas Reardon is a neuroscientist, software developer, and CEO of CTRL-labs. He launched CTRL-labs with two fellow scientists from Columbia University. CTRL-labs builds radically pragmatic non-invasive neural interface technology with single-neuron resolution.
Prior to his PhD research, Reardon had a storied career in software development. He spent a decade at Microsoft in the Windows group, and is best known for launching the Internet Explorer project. As a founding member of the W3C, Reardon contributed widely to the early architecture, protocols, and standards of the web. After a decade at Microsoft, he co-founded and served as CEO at Avogadro, Inc. Following the $100M purchase of Avogadro, he served as CTO at acquirer Openwave.
Manish Saggar, PhD
Manish Saggar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He graduated from Indian Institute of Information Technology (Allahabad) and then went to the University of Texas at Austin for his Ph.D., where he examined how intensive meditation training affects brain dynamics in the lab of Dr. Risto Miikkulainen. Followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Psychiatry at Stanford University under the guidance of Dr. Allan L. Reiss, Manish established his independent computational neuropsychiatry lab (Brain Dynamics Lab) at Stanford in 2017. Dr. Saggar's lab is dedicated to developing computational methods to capture brain’s overall dynamical organization in health and disease. Dr. Saggar has received the NIH Career Development Award (K99/R00) and the NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain & Behavior Foundation.
The overarching goal of his research is to understand how our brain dynamically adapts to perform different tasks one after another. He believes that understanding brain’s dynamical organization can be crucial for augmenting human performance (e.g., during creative thinking) as well as for developing and tracking treatments for mental illnesses. His lab is dedicated to developing computational methods that can generate useful mechanistic insights about the “transitions” (or lack thereof) in underlying neural processes during ongoing cognition. To achieve these goals, he employs algorithms from a wide range of fields, including Applied Mathematics, Econometrics, Machine Learning, Biophysics and Network Science.
Laura Schulz, PhD
Laura Schulz is the Class of 1943 Career Development Associate Professor of Cognitive Science in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. She received the Troland award from the National Science Foundation in 2012, the Macvicar Faculty Fellowship at MIT in 2013, and the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in 2014. She has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Philosophy from University of Michigan.
The infrastructure of human cognition, our commonsense understanding of the physical and social world, is constructed during early childhood. Schulz studies the representations and learning mechanisms that underlie this feat. Her research looks at 1) how children infer the concepts and causal relations that enable them to engage in accurate prediction, explanation, and intervention ; 2) the factors that support curiosity and exploration, allowing children to engage in effective discovery and 3) how these abilities inform and interact with social cognition to support intuitive theories of the self and others.
Nirao Shah, MD, PhD
Dr. Nirao Shah is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and of Neurobiology at Stanford University. After completing his medical training, Nirao was a graduate student at Caltech, where he identified mechanisms that control differentiation of stem cells that give rise to the peripheral nervous system. For his post-graduate fellowship at Columbia University, Nirao developed genetic approaches to identify neural pathways that regulate social behaviors. In his own laboratory, his research has elaborated on such approaches to identify genes and neurons that control different aspects of social interactions. Nirao's findings have provided insights into how our brains enable social interactions in health, and they are relevant to understanding mechanisms underlying behavioral manifestations of autism, dementia, mood disorders, and PTSD.
Li-Huei Tsai, PhD
Li-Huei Tsai received her P.h.D degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. She joined the faculty in the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School in 1994 and was named an investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1997. In 2006, she was appointed Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and joined the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. In 2009, she became the Director for the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT.
Katharina Volz, PhD
Katharina Sophia Volz pioneered Stanford University's first Ph.D. in Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine in 2015, earning her degree in just 2.5 years. She was listed on Forbes 30u30 (Science) and has been immersed in the field of biomedical sciences for the past 12 years, starting with
her attendance at Germany's Biotechnology High school. She has been awarded multiple fellowships and awards to do research in 10 labs around the world including Harvard, UCLA, HHMI, Ohio State, TU Graz and Stanford. During her Ph.D. she had a breakthrough discovering the epicardial-derived cell type that forms the coronary arteries and the signal required for this differentiation event. Dr. Volz founded OccamzRazor, an AI-driven neuroscience company OccamzRazor that is focused on creating disease-modifying treatments for Parkinson's Disease (PD) and other complex diseases.