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In November, several McLean physician-scientists and neuroscience researchers traveled to Washington, DC to participate in the Society for Neuroscience’s (SfN) annual conference—the world’s largest meeting on scientific discovery related to the brain and nervous system.
More than 15,000 scientific presentations were given on the advances in techniques and new research about brain structure, health, disease, and treatments. In addition to presentations on posters and scientific lectures, the meeting featured professional development workshops, networking functions, and 712 exhibitors displaying the latest scientific products.
“For neuroscientists, one of the main purposes for attending this conference is to get exposure to emerging findings in the fields of brain research and psychiatric illness,” said Christopher W. Cowan, PhD, director of the Integrative Neurobiology Laboratory at McLean Hospital and an associate professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn about state-of-the-art, cutting edge neuroscience research and to spark new ideas and directions for your own lab research programs,” he said. “It’s also an excellent place to connect with other scientists in the field, including current and past collaborators and colleagues. These interactions often spark new collaborative ideas and projects between people who don’t cross paths very often.”
Cowan pointed out that the SfN recognizes the importance of mentoring and offers smaller conferences and forums in which organizations and researcher lab directors can interview candidates for career or internship opportunities. “It’s also an ideal environment for graduate students or post-doctoral trainees to present their original research findings prior to publication,” he said.
Some of the emerging news topics during the conferences included neuroscientists presenting findings on new technologies, the science behind addiction, depression and autism, potential treatments for spinal cord injuries, and advances in stem cell research.