Neurodegeneration Lecture & Alumni Careers Highlighted the 11th Annual NeuroFrontiers Workshop on April 23

A Rosalind Franklin Medical School professor and six Lake Forest College alumni joined the students of the BIO346 Molecular Neuroscience course as these students role-played world famous neuroscientists at a unique annual scientific research conference on April 23 at Lake Forest College from 8 am - 5 pm in Johnson Science Center Room 200. The public was invited.

What is NeuroFrontiers?

Now in its 11th year, this unique public conference is sponsored by the Biology Department and the Neuroscience Program. It is the non-traditional final exam in the course BIO346 Molecular Neuroscience taken by biology, neuroscience and psychology majors their junior or senior year.  On the first day of class, each student was assigned to role-play a world leader in a subfield of neuroscience. Through the course of the semester, the student researched, read, and synthesized the major papers published by the scientist over his/her scientific career to deeply understand how scientific knowledge accrues over time and how an individual scientist can make important biomedical contributions.  In this process, each student typically read 30-40 articles published over a span 2-3 decades.

During the workshop, each role-playing student becomes the scientist and presents a professional 30-minute seminar on the career length contributions to neuroscience. The student also authors a review article on this topic that is published in the in-house annual NeuroFrontiers journal, now its eleventh edition.

To make this conference as real as possible, a noted Chicago area neuroscientist is invited to participate in the entire workshop, present his/her own research as the workshop’s Keynote Address, and to facilitate scientific dialogue between each role-playing student as they critically integrate individual scientist seminars into the broader context of understanding the complex relationship between brain, mind and behavior and the current challenges and the future of biomedicine.

Over 120 students have participated in this workshop since 1998, with more than 100 of them headed for or already pursuing careers in biomedicine.

The Eleventh NeuroFrontiers Workshop, April 23, 8 am - 5 pm

KEYNOTE LECTURE
- 4:30 PM
Dr. Michelle Hastings, Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, will deliver the Keynote Address on the topic “Correction of RNA Splicing Defects in Neurodegenerative Diseases”.

Dr. Hastings received her B.A. in biology from St. Olaf College and her PhD from Marquette University.  She did her postdoctoral training as an American Cancer Society fellow at the Cold Spring Harbor Labs. In 2010, she received the Board of Trustees Award at Rosalind Franklin, awarded to a junior faculty member for excellence in research. She is an expert in the field of RNA-based neurological diseases and has published more than a dozen articles on this topic in journals that include Nucleic Acids Research, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology and Plos One.

Dr. Hastings has actively engaged in mentoring several Lake Forest College biology and neuroscience majors as LFC-RFUMS summer research fellows, including mentoring senior thesis projects. These students are Paige Keasler ‘10, Daniella Brutman ‘12, and Ashley Reich ‘13.


ALUMNI CAREER PANEL -11:00 AM

Six biology, psychology and neuroscience alumni will lead a carer panel entitled “Neuroscience Alumni, Alumni in Neuroscience”. They are:
Dr. Michele McNeeley-Beekman ‘03, Chief Resident, Rush University Medical Center
Ms. Silvia Skripkauskas ‘04, Clinical Data Manager, Northwestern University
Ms. Jennifer Riddle ‘07, Senior Research Associate, Covance Inc. 
Ms. Stephanie Valtierra ‘08, PhD student in Neuroscience, Northwestern University
Mr. Brian Kinsman ‘09  Research Technologist, University of Chicago
Mr. Derek Atchley ‘10, Research Technician/2011 PhD student, Wayne State University


FULL PROGRAM

REGISTRATION: Johnson Bridge: 7:30 AM, Coffee, Juice, Bagels

INTRODUCTION: 7:50 AM, Keith Solvang ’11 and Anna Naditz ‘12, Workshop Chairs

Session I: Regeneration Frontiers, 8:00 am – 9:30 am

1. Dr. Stephen Strittmatter, HHMI/Yale University, “CNS Neuroregeneration: A NOGO Zone”, role-played by Ms. Madhavi Senagolage ‘12

2. Dr. Fred Gage, The Salk Institute, “Neurogenesis: Rethinking and Regrowing the Brain”, role-played by Mr. Pete Sullivan ‘12

Session II: Cognitive Frontiers, 9:30 am – 10:30 am

3. Dr. Ursula Bellugi, The Salk Institute, “Williams Syndrome: The Benefits & Costs of Microdeletions”, role-played by Ms. Mira Trebilcock ’12

4. Dr. Stephen Warren, Emory University, “Fragile X: FMRP Loss, Dendritic Dysfunction & Mental Retardation”, role-played by Ms. Laura Lepping ’12

Session III: Sensory Frontiers, 10:30 am – 11:00 am

5. Dr. Charles Zuker, HHMI/Columbia University, “Tasty Genes: Diverse Receptors Mediate Distinct Modalities”, role-played by Mr. Menzi Mhlanga ‘11

Session IV: Diverse Careers: Neuroscience Alumni, Alumni in Neuroscience, 11:00 am – 12:00 Noon

Dr. Michele McNeeley-Beekman ‘03, Chief Resident, Rush University Medical Center
Ms. Silvia Skripkauskas ‘04, Clinical Data Manager, Northwestern University
Ms. Jennifer Riddle ‘07, Senior Research Associate, Covance Inc. 
Ms. Stephanie Valtierra ‘08, PhD student in Neuroscience, Northwestern University
Mr. Brian Kinsman ‘09  Research Technologist, University of Chicago
Mr. Derek Atchley ‘10, Research Technician/2011 PhD student, Wayne State University

STUDENT/SPEAKER LUNCH: 12:15 noon - 1:30 pm, The Commons Cafeteria •

Session V: RNA Frontiers, 1:30 – 2:00 pm

6. Dr. Gideon Dreyfuss, University of Pennsylvania, “The Splicing Mayhem and Motor Degeneration of SMA”, role-played by Ms. Daniella Brutman ‘12     

Session IV: Neurodegeneration Frontiers, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

7. Dr. Huda Zoghbi, Baylor College of Medicine/HHMI, “Unique Keys to SCA and Rett: Balancing Localization vs. Expression”, role-played by Ms. Saajidha Rizvydeeen ‘12

8. Dr. Don Cleveland, UC San Diego, “ALS: Complex Toxicity of Misfolded Neurofilaments & Mutant SOD1”, role-played by Mr. Pascal Accoh ‘12

9. Dr. Stanley Prusiner, UC San Francisco, “Dogma breaking Prion Protein Propagates Misfolding Madness”, role-played by Mr. Paulius Kuprys ‘12

10. Dr. Susan Lindquist, Whitehead Institute/MIT/HHMI. “Protein Folding Mysteries: Fostering Evolution or Promoting Disease?” role-played by Ms. Kayla Ahlstrand ‘12

RECEPTION: 4:00 PM, Johnson Bridge, Johnson Science Building

CLOSING PLENARY LECTURE 4:30-5:30

CORRECTION OF THE RNA SPLICING DEFECTS IN NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES, by Dr. Michelle Hastings, Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science