Stephen J. Suomi, chief of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, will speak at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke, on Thursday and Friday, as the first in the inaugural distinguished visiting scholars program sponsored by the research institute.

Suomi will give a public lecture from 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, on "Risk, resilience, and gene-environment interplay in primates," in room M203. There will be a public reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. He will give a talk on his current research, "New studies of epigenetic developmental processes in primates," at noon on Friday, in room R1059 at the research institute.

Suomi has received international recognition for his extensive research on bio-behavioral development in rhesus monkeys and other primate species. His initial postdoctoral research successfully reversed the adverse effects of early social isolation, previously thought to be permanent in rhesus monkeys. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to the understanding of how socialization affects the psychological development of non-human primates. His current research focuses on the role of genetic and environmental factors in shaping individual psychological development in non-human primates, the effect of change on psychological development, and whether findings on monkeys in captivity generalize not only to monkeys living in the wild but also to humans living in different cultures.

Hosts for the talk are Sharon L. Ramey, distinguished research scholar with the research institute, and Michael J. Friedlander, executive director of the research institute.

The research institute's visiting scholar series will bring nationally and internationally prominent biomedical and bio-behavioral scientists to Roanoke for several days of informal meetings with researchers and for a series of lectures to the greater research, clinical, and student/trainee communities. "Public lectures will be intended for diverse audiences in order to facilitate the dissemination of leading edge contemporary information on major topics of the underlying principles of health, disease, and healthcare," said Friedlander.

Special presentations will focus on the most up to date research findings from each scholar’s own laboratory." I welcome you to attend these programs and to notify your colleagues in Roanoke, Blacksburg, and throughout the valleys to this exciting new opportunity in the biomedical and health sciences in Roanoke."

The next speakers for whom details are final are

  • Harald Sontheimer, professor in the Department of Neurobiology, director of the Civitan International Research Center, and director of the Center for Glial Biology in Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His public lecture from 5 to 6 p.m. on April 7 will be on "Glial derived brain tumors: Unique biology and opportunities for novel treatments, in room M203. A public reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the VTC Cafe. His current research presentation will be "Ion channels as regulators for cell proliferation and cell migration in the nervous system" at noon April 8 in room R1059 of the research institute.
  • Craig C. Garner, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and co-director of the Center for Research and Treatment of Down Syndrome at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will give a public lecture of "Developing pharmacotherapies for cognitive impairment in Down syndrome" from 5 to 6 p.m. May 19 in room M203. A public reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the VTC Cafe. His current research presentation will be on "Molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease and Phelan-McDermid syndrome" at 10 a.m. on May 20 in the research institute room R1059.

Details are being finalized for additional speakers:

  • May 6, Dr. Robert Malenka, the Pritzker Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-director of the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine;
  • Sept. 8-9, Ron Davis, professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Scripps Research Institute, Florida;
  • Sept. 29-30, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse with the National Institutes of Health, will give a public lecture on "What is Addiction" and talk about her research on "Dopamine and Addiction";
  • Oct. 6-7, Matt Wachowiak, associate professor with the Brain Institute at the University of Utah, will give a public lecture on "Seeing what the nose tells the brain: Imaging the sense of smell" and talk about his research on "Active sensing and odor coding imaged in the awake, behaving animal";
  • Oct. 27-28, Grant Jensen, professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute;
  • Dec. 1-2, Adele Diamond, director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, Canada Research Chair, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, will give a public lecture on "Executive Functions and Prefrontal Cortex:  Genetic and Neurochemical Influences, Gender Differences, and Practical Activities and Approaches to Help" and talk about her research on "Why Tools of the Mind and Montessori Educational Approaches may be particularly efficacious for developing Executive Function Skills";
  • Jan. 12-13, 2012, Susan Amara, the Thomas Detre Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-director of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh; and
  • April 26-27, 2012, Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, professor of cell biology at the Harvard Medical School.

Updates will be posted on the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute website and on the Virginia Tech Calendar of Events. For more information, contact Dana Nicols at (540) 526-2013.


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