The biology of the criminal mind, the development of childhood obesity, and the mechanisms of chronic pain are among the many topics that will be explored in a new series of scientific talks in Roanoke. Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the Distinguished Visiting Scholars Series will feature top experts from across the country throughout the academic year.

In the season kickoff event on Sept. 8, Ron Davis, one of the nation’s leading experts on the biological basis of learning and memory, will discuss how the brain forms, stores, and retrieves memories. On Sept. 29, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will explore how the brain becomes addicted. And on Oct. 6, Matt Wachowiak, a neurobiologist at the University of Utah’s Brain Institute, will follow with a presentation on understanding our relationship with the world through our sense of smell.

Other topics will include the development of children’s minds; the role of science in informing morality; the genetics of autoimmune diseases such as lupus; innovations in treating psychiatric and neurological disorders; molecular signaling in the heart during cardiac arrhythmias; the use of stem cells in regenerating damaged body parts; new treatments for cystic fibrosis; gene interactions in seizures; and the evolution of the immune system.

Each visiting scholar will present two free lectures — one tailored to the public, on Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and a second, more technical one on Fridays from 1 to 2 p.m. The public is invited to all the lectures, which will take place at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke.

“The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute is bringing some of the world’s leading medical researchers and scientific thought leaders to Roanoke as part of our mission to engage the community in the excitement and promise of scientific research,” says Michael Friedlander, executive director of the institute and host of the seminar series. “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to share the insights of such highly sought after experts in such a range of fascinating topics. We’re also very proud to introduce these speakers to the new partnership that Virginia Tech and the Carilion Clinic have forged for bringing the future of medical science to the Roanoke region.”

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