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October 10, 2013
Kathleen Paice 315 464-4839

Three leading scientists in brain research present public lecture Oct. 21

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Susan Hockfield, Ph.D., Nicholas Spitzer, Ph.D., and Dennis Choi, M.D., Ph.D.— three of the country’s leading names in brain science research—will visit the Upstate Medical University campus to deliver a lecture on how today’s research is leading to exciting new advances in the prevention, treatment and cures for disorders of the brain. The lecture will be held Monday Oct. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Upstate’s Institute for Human Performance (IHP), 505 Irving Ave., Syracuse.  It is free and open to the public.

The lecture will be preceded by an opening ceremony for the IHP’s new expansion, the Neuroscience Research Building, and followed by a reception and tours of the new building.

Hockfield is president emerita and professor of neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Spitzer is director of the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind and Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology at the University of California San Diego. Choi is director of the Institute for Advanced Neurosciences and professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at SUNY Stony Brook.

“We are fortunate to have brought together these three distinguished investigators whose individual initiatives have significantly impacted our understanding of the brain, its function and how its dysfunction can lead to a multitude of disorders,” said Rosemary Rochford, Ph.D., vice president for research at Upstate Medical University. “The better understanding we have of the brain, the closer we are to creating new neurotechnologies and more effective ways to diagnose, treat, and ultimately cure its disorders.”

• In 2004, Hockfield became the first woman and the first life scientist to hold the title of president of MIT. Her many accomplishments include pioneering the use of monoclonal antibody technology in brain research and discovering a gene that plays a critical role in the spread of cancer in the brain. Her presentation is titled, “Crossing Boundaries: Science in the 21st Century” at the symposium.

•. Spitzer also is editor-in-chief of, a public information service about the brain and nervous system, and is instrumental in the BRAIN Initiative, a research project backed by the White House to advance new technologies to help map the brain. His research focuses on how the brain functions, particularly the ways in which neurons take on specialized functions to enable signaling in the brain. He will lecture on “The Brain Today and Tomorrow: Looking  In and Looking Out.”

Choi holds seven patents for his highly innovative work into the science of neurological disorders. He has penned more than 170 peer-reviewed scientific papers, over 60 review articles and over 50 book chapters, editing six books along the way.  His work as a graduate student led to the co-discovery of how benzodiazepine drugs work to enhance gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) actions and later, his laboratory studied pathological neuronal cell death, discovering a key role for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation and calcium overload in excitotoxicity, and for zinc in ischemic brain injury. More recently, he has worked to advance translational clinical research, including biomarker development for brain disorders. Choi’s talk on Oct. 21 is titled, “From the Brain Activity Map (BAM) Project to New Treatments.”

The Neuroscience Research Building (NRB) is an expansion of Upstate’s Institute for Human Performance. The building is a block long, five-story addition adjacent to the Institute for Human Performance that is located on a two-acre site bounded by Harrison, Madison, Crouse and Irving avenues in Syracuse. The expansion was designed by Goody Clancy Architecture of Boston. LEED certification at the silver level from the U.S. Green Building Council.

For more information about the free, public lecture, call 315-464-8668.

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