Zenerei Institute & ISBS invite you to join fellow zebrafish researchers during a day-long course consisting of a series of lectures covering major neurobehavioral domains and advanced phenotyping techniques for probing normal and pathological behaviors in zebrafish. Additionally, it will provide a forum for individual to share, exchange and troubleshoot aspects of zebrafish behavioral research.
I wanted to take a moment and post an interesting workshop being hosted by AAAS tonight at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting: Careers Away from the Bench. It will be held from 6:30pm – 8pm at the San Diego Convention Centre, room 4.
The workshop will address career options for PhDs outside of academia or non-academic research. They promise to discuss how to identify opportunities, and how to develop the skills that will help launch a successful career away from (bench) research.
I’d say it is absolutely worth a visit, even if you do want to pursue academia. You never know where a career might take you and being informed of the options will prove valuable at some point in your life.
If you can’t attend, AAAS has a wealth of information available on their outreach website.
One of the funniest things to happen before SfN even started was the realization that all people on my flight but maybe three, were headed to San Diego to attend SfN. We must have left the flight crew a bit confused when one after another passenger brought on board a poster tube. In fact, there were so many that by the end of the flight they made a special announcement:
“…One other thing… we…uhm… noticed very many of you with…uhm… these tubes. I just want to stress for all passengers to make sure they are leaving with their own tube, and not someone else’s because they all look alike so much, and it would be horrible to arrive at your destination with a tube that is not your own.”
Although I arrived yesterday, today was the official start of the conference. This was the first time in my adult life where I can say yet lag is my friend: traveling from Toronto to Southern California gives me the feeling of being a hardcore morning person. I woke up around 5am, truly came to terms with getting up at 6:30 and decided to go for an early morning run. Although I run regularly and I had fully committed to running in San Diego, I certainly had no plans of running before 8am. Somehow, that seemed like the only thing I could do, aside from just walking around the city again (as I already did yesterday). I actively tried to talk myself out of going out that early, but my inner runner won and off I went. My only regret was not being able to take my camera, because the fresh glow the sun left on harbor drive was phenomenal. I’ll have to retrace my steps later and actually take pictures…
Unlike previous years, it feels like SfN is starting off a little bit slow. There was absolutely nothing to do before 11am (another great argument for actually running earlier), but once the conference started it started with a bang! From 11am-1pm Glenn Close spoke to me, and what looked like a few thousand colleagues, about her advocacy through BringChange2Mind.org. You can see a full video of her talk here.
Glenn Close has mental illness in her family, and as it turns out many of us in the audience can identify with that position, or battle some form of mental illness as well. This isn’t that strange, because as Glenn pointed out one in four families has one or more members with mental illness.
Glenn Close shared a portion of her sequenced DNA results
It was interesting that Glenn Close started her talk with a reference to being asked by people “are you who we think you are”, and then those people actually confusing her with Meryl Streep. Glenn then proceeded to say this was an occasion where she could actually show us who she really is, because most of the time she is pretending to be someone else in her career as an actor. She shared a printout of her DNA sequencing data, and in a humourful way referred to her chromosome 1 as “sexy”. I’d like to agree…
Glenn Close pointing at her DNA
The reference to ‘identity’ kept coming back in her talk, and in the talks given by her sister and nephew (both afflicted by mental health disorders), although this did not seem to be intended. Stigma surrounding mental health disorders might have a lot to do with perceived identity. Although never formulated as such, from the discussion I feel it needs to be addressed that others might think of some one’s symptoms as part of their personality. Someone acting out, or showing signs of severe depression are often not recognized as having an illness, they are treated based on how their symptoms appear to the world. Even though it might be difficult to address this because another person might not know to recognize symptoms for what they are, and not attribute it to some one’s personality, if addressed it might help the issue of stigma. It was rightfully pointed out that the same stigma does not exist around other diseases, such as diabetes or even cancer. Most of the time though, the symptoms of other diseases might not be as obvious, or most importantly might not affect some one’s behavior. In terms of behavior that we consider to fit within our “norm”. Whenever people deviate from a norm, others get nervous. As Glenn’s sister Jesse pointed out, perhaps “it is genetically ingrained to be afraid of people who are not like us.” This makes banishing the stigma difficult. After all, even though we know mental illness is not “who” or “what” the person who suffers from it is, we still assess how we treat someone by how they might be behaving.
Glenn’s talk was extraordinarily enlightening, and illustrated how much more needs to be done in the area of advocacy for people with a mental disorder. It also made it clear to me we need to actively think about how to address the stigma that exists, and how important effective treatments are in helping people overcome stigma by addressing their disorder’s symptoms. Basic research can help us find treatments that will brighten another person’s life, in some cases quite literally. This talk highlighted how big a difference we make as a community, even though there is still so far to go.
Anyone who wants to be involved with, or learn more about BringChange2Mind can visit their website. Be sure to check out their videos on youtube, and definitely look out for their PSA. It is a very powerful message, and a fantastic video I encourage everyone to see:
The Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting is being held in Chicago this year, and yesterday it kicked off with over 29.000 attendees. Most likely, the total number of neuroscientists working on all areas of the brain will climb to over 30.000 over the next few days.
The conference kicked off with a wonderful, and rather unexpected dialogue between Neuroscience and Society: “Magic, the Brain, and the Mind”. Real magicians took the stage, and wowed the audience with their extraordinary ability to fool our minds and divert our attention. Apollo Robbins, and Eric Mead took the stage, and our attention, away from some of the excellent “hard science” being discussed at this meeting as well.
An entertaining start for sure, and got us focused on the fact that there is still a lot about the brain, consciousness, and awareness, that we need to explore.