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Virginia Tech partners with Nordic universities to host first international precision neuroscience conference

September 2, 2016

The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute building.

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute will host the Virginia-Nordic Precision Neuroscience Conference from Oct. 5-7.

Roanoke will host the Virginia-Nordic Precision Neuroscience Conference from Oct. 5-7 at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

The conference will bring together neuroscientists, clinicians, and national health science leaders from the National Institutes of Health, and thought leaders from the pharmaceutical industry in the United States and Nordic nations, including Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Participants will share the latest research in precision neuroscience, an area of biomedical research and clinical practice with significant potential for improving human brain health as well as preventing, diagnosing, and treating brain disorders.

Michael J. Friedlander, Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology and executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and Tor Haugstad, the Neuroscience Clinical Chair and Professor at Norway’s Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, co-chair the conference international planning committee. The committee also includes Stephen LaConte, an associate professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, and the University of Oslo’s Leif Gjerstad, Emeritus Professor of Neurology, and Jon Storm Mathisen, a professor at the University of Oslo Center for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience

“The conference will explore the future and challenges of the promise of personalized medicine to brain health and brain disorders,” Friedlander said. “This first-of-its-kind international meeting will provide a unique opportunity to share insights, current cutting-edge research breakthroughs, and patient needs to address the single largest and most impactful group of health challenges that we face as a species – nervous system disorders. In addition, the program will foster collaborations between the commonwealth’s major health research universities and with colleagues from multiple international institutions.”

More than 35 speakers will participate in the conference, including 2014 Chemistry Nobel Prize laureate, Eric Betzig, and Karel Svoboda, the 2015 Grete Lundbeck European Brain Prize recipient. Jon Storm-Mathisen, of the faculty of medicine at the University of Oslo, will discuss efforts to design therapeutic pathways for patients over a wide range of traumatic and degenerative neurological disorders. The director of the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke at NIH, Walter Korashetz, and the director of intramural research programs at the National Institute of Mental Health at NIH, Susan Amara, will discuss national strategies for advancing the development of precision guided treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

“Excellence in neuroscience research is becoming one of the premiere health science focus areas across Virginia and has strong historic roots as a premiere medical and scientific enterprise in the Nordic countries. In fact, the commonwealth’s governor, Terry McAuliffe, has declared Virginia as the brain state,” Friedlander said. “Recent research progress allows for unprecedented interventions, such as reversing unhealthy decision-making by the brain, modulating the activity of cellular networks in the living brain to alleviate major neurological and psychiatric symptoms, using a patient’s unique genetic profile to select a customized treatment for brain injury, and measuring the release of major chemical neurotransmitters in the living human brain during behavior.”

Members of the neuroscience research and clinical communities are welcome to attend the conference presentations and panels. Speakers will share research findings and clinicians will address ways in which research is improving patient outcomes by bridging work from the laboratory to bedside applications. To facilitate physician participation, Carilion Clinic’s Continuing Medical Education Program has designated the conference with a maximum of 14.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits.

Registration is free and open to faculty, postdoctoral students, graduate and undergraduate students, and physicians for one, two, or all three days of the conference. Poster submissions consistent with the precision neuroscience conference theme are welcome. To register, submit a poster proposal, or find out more information, please visit to the conference website at www.vnpn.org.

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