Angela Roberts, University of Cambridge  

Angela C. Roberts obtained her PhD in neuroendocrinology from University of Cambridge (1985) and following postdoctoral studies researching into the neural and neurochemical basis of cognitive flexibility was appointed Lecturer in Department of Anatomy, Cambridge, in 1996, becoming Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience in 2010.  She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2016. Recent scientific contributions have involved establishing non-human primate models of positive and negative emotion regulation, identifying the distinct prefrontal networks that may underlie the varied aetiology of affective disorders and elucidating the sensitivity of these networks to anxiolytics/ antidepressants essential for the more effective targeting of current pharmacotherapies. She received the Goldman-Rakic Prize for outstanding achievements in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2020.  

Steve Paul

Dr. Steve Paul is the Chief Scientific Officer, President of Research and Development, and a member of the board of directors at Karuna Therapeutics. He most recently served as Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer from 2018 – 2022. He is an expert in drug discovery and development. Dr. Paul spent 17 years at Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), during which time he held several key leadership roles, including Executive Vice President for Science and Technology and President of the Lilly Research Laboratories. At Lilly he was responsible for the company’s overall research and development efforts and helped to oversee Lilly’s pipeline of both small molecule drugs and biologics in its core  therapeutic areas of neuroscience, oncology, diabetes/obesity, and inflammation. Prior to Lilly,  Dr. Paul spent 18 years at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and served as the Scientific  Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Paul is a co-founder and board  member of Sage Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SAGE) and a co-founder of Voyager Therapeutics  (NASDAQ: VYGR) where he served as President, Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Paul is the  former director of the Appel Alzheimer’s Disease Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medical  College and is currently a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Washington University of  St. Louis School of Medicine. 

Dr. Paul has authored or co-authored more than 550 papers and book chapters. He is an elected  fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the  National Academy of Medicine (NAM) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He is also  an elected Fellow Emeritus of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) and  served as ACNP President (1999). Dr. Paul is the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for  the NIH (FNIH) and previously served on the Science Board of the U.S. Food and Drug  Administration (FDA), in addition to serving on many other advisory committees and receiving  many awards and honors for his scientific research. 

Dr. Paul received his bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology from Tulane University, and  his M.S. and M.D. degrees from the Tulane University School of Medicine.


Sergiu Pasca, Stanford University 

Sergiu P. Pasca, MD is the Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the Uytengsu Family Founding Director of Stanford Brain Organogenesis. He is a CZI Ben Barres Investigator and a Chan Zuckerberg BioHub Investigator. 

Professor Pasca is interested in understanding the rules governing human brain assembly and the mechanisms of disease. During his clinical training in Romania, he used biochemistry and genetics to explore gene-environment interactions in autism and schizophrenia. He continued his neuroscience training at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt where he investigated the role of gamma oscillations in visual processing. Interested in studying the biology of disease in human neurons, he pursued postdoctoral studies in Ricardo Dolmetsch’s laboratory at Stanford University, where he developed some of the first cellular models with induced pluripotent stem cells to study neuropsychiatric disorders. His independent laboratory at Stanford introduced instructive signals for reproducibly deriving self-organizing organoids that resemble domains of the human nervous system (regionalized brain organoids), pioneered a modular platform known as assembloids to study migration and neural circuit formation, and developed integrated human circuits in living animals following transplantation. Professor Pasca systematically applied these cellular models to gain insights into human physiology, evolution and disease, including by developing new therapeutic approaches. He extensively supported hundreds of labs around the world in implementing these techniques through courses, organized  major international conferences, and led group efforts with leaders in the field to clarify nomenclature and quality controls for this new research area. 

Professor Pasca was named a Visionary in Medicine and Science by the New York Times. He is a Knight of the Order of Merit and a Doctor Honoris Causa. He was featured as a physician-scientist by Nature Medicine, was a NYSCF Robertson Investigator and a TED 2022 Speaker. He is the recipient of the Vilcek Award for Creative Biomedical Promise (2018), the National Institute of Mental Health BRAINS Award (2015), the MQ Award for Transforming Mental Health (2014), the A.E. Bennett Award in Biological Psychiatry (2018), the Folch-Pi Neurochemistry Award (2017), the Günter Blobel Award for Cell Biology (2018), the Daniel E. Efron Award in Neuropsychopharmacology (2018), a Breakthrough in Life Sciences Prize (2020) from Falling Walls, the International Basic Science Schizophrenia Prize (2021), the Joseph Altman Award in Developmental Neuroscience (2021), the Theodore Reich Award (2021), the Judson Daland Prize from the American Philosophical Society (2021), the 13th IBRO-Kemali Neuroscience Award (2022), and the CINP Sumitomo/Sunovion Award (2023). 

Katharina Schmack, The Francis Crick Institute

Katharina Schmack received her medical and doctoral degrees from Charité, Berlin in 2009. She then completed her postdoctoral training, clinical scientist fellowship and psychiatry specialization at Charité, Berlin. In 2018, she moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, for a research fellowship. In 2021, she joined the Crick Institute as a Group Leader.

Her research focuses on psychosis. Her lab investigates the neural circuits and immune processes giving rise to hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms. Using a cross-species approach, her lab studies both patients and mice with behavioural tests, computational models, and in-vivo measures and manipulations. 

Gord Fishell, Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School

Gord Fishell is an institute member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a group leader in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute, and a professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

Fishell’s laboratory is interested in how the architecture of brain circuits are assembled, with a special focus on the diverse populations of inhibitory interneurons that are found in both pallial and subpallial telencephalon. His laboratory has spent the past 20 years working to understand the inhibitory cells that regulate excitatory signaling in the brain. In its simplest sense, brain inhibition is the stop signal that prevents the brain from becoming over-excited. In practice it is much more nuanced. The human brain is bombarded by senses and without the ability of inhibitory cells to gate the salient from the irrelevant, the ability to function in normal life would descend into chaos. Indeed, numerous lines of evidence suggest that defects in inhibition are a proximal cause for a range of brain disorders including autism. The loss of appropriate inhibitory control results in autistic individuals being unable to ignore the touch of clothing on skin or focus during a conversation without being distracted by extraneous sounds. The lab’s hope is that by understanding how the genetic changes that manifest in autism affect the development and function of interneurons, they will be able to create new treatment approaches for this pervasive disorder.

Fishell was previously the associate director of the New York University (NYU) Neuroscience Institute, Julius Raines Professor of Neuroscience and Physiology at NYU, and director of the graduate program in neuroscience and physiology at the NYU School of Medicine. He completed his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Toronto and conducted postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the Rockefeller University.

Beth Stevens, Broad Institute, Boston Children's Hospital

Beth Stevens is an institute member of the Broad Institute, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and a research associate in neurobiology at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a Merkin Institute Fellow at the Broad.

Her research seeks to understand the mechanisms that regulate the disappearance of synapses — junctions where nerves communicate with each other — by focusing on how immune-related molecules mediate this process. Her most recent work seeks to uncover the role that microglial cells, the immune cells of the central nervous system, and their connectivity play in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. She and her team recently identified how microglia affect synaptic pruning, the critical developmental process of cutting back on synapses that occurs between early childhood and puberty. Problems with pruning can lead to developmental disorders such as autism.

Stevens was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2015. She has also received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), Dana Foundation Award (Brain and Immuno-Imaging), and Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging award, and she is a member of the John Merck Scholar Program. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Stevens received her B.S. at Northeastern University. She carried out her graduate research at the National Institutes of Health and received her Ph.D. from University of Maryland, College Park. She completed her postdoctoral research at Stanford University with Ben Barres.

Stein Aerts, University of Leuven

Prof. Stein Aerts has a multidisciplinary background in both bio-engineering and computer science. During his PhD he was trained in bioinformatics, and during his Postdoc he worked on the genomics of gene regulation in Drosophila. Stein now heads the Laboratory of Computational Biology at the VIB and University of Leuven. His lab focuses on deciphering the genomic regulatory code, using a combination of single-cell, machine-learning, and experimental approaches. His recent scientific contributions include new bioinformatics methods for the analysis of single-cell gene regulatory networks, namely SCENIC and cisTopic; new experimental assays for single-cell ATAC-seq (HyDrop) and for massively parallel enhancer reporter assays; deep learning implementations for enhancer modelling (DeepMEL, DeepFlyBrain, DeepLiver); and methods for AI-driven design of synthetic enhancers for gene therapy. Stein co-founded the Fly Cell Atlas consortium and generated a single-cell atlas of the ageing Drosophila brain. Stein was awarded the 2017 Prize for Bioinformatics and Computational Science from the Biotech Fund and the 2016 Astrazeneca Foundation Award Bioinformatics. He is EMBO member since 2022, obtained an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2016, and an ERC Advanced Grant in 2022.

Wendy Chung, Boston Children's Hospital

Wendy Chung, M.D., Ph.D. is a clinical and molecular geneticist and the Chief of the Department of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Chung directs NIH funded research programs in human genetics of pulmonary hypertension, breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, autism, birth defects including congenital diaphragmatic hernia and congenital heart disease.  She is a national leader in the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics. She was the recipient of the NY Academy of Medicine Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science, the Rare Impact Award from the National Organization of Rare Disorders, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.  Dr. Chung received her B.A. in biochemistry from Cornell University, her M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, and her Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University in genetics.  

Yin Shen, UCSF

Dr. Shen is an associate professor at the Institute for Human Genetics and the Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Shen obtained her Ph.D. in Human Genetics in 2008 and joined the faculty at UCSF in 2015 after completing postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego, with Dr. Bing Ren. Dr. Shen is studying how non-coding cis-regulatory sequences control gene expression and contribute to complex diseases. Specifically, Dr. Shen focuses on investigator cell-type-specific 3D epigenomes in iPSC-derived neural cell types and during the development of the human brain. Additionally, the Shen lab develops and applies novel CRISPR approaches for characterizing candidate cis-regulatory elements and diseases-associated variants in iPSCs models. Dr. Shen is an active member of the ENCODE4 and 4D Nucleome (4DN) consortium, contributing to the annotation of the non-coding regulatory sequences in the human genome.

Morgan Sheng, Broad Institute, MIT

Morgan Sheng is a Core Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he serves as Co-Director of the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. He is also a Professor in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, an affiliate member of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and a member of the Board of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

From 2001 to 2008, Sheng was the Menicon Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, as well as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 2008 to 2019, Sheng was vice-president of neuroscience at Genentech, a leading biotech company, where he led research and drug discovery efforts for major diseases of the nervous system. His research at Genentech focused on pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease, particularly Alzheimer and Parkinson disease. The goals of Sheng’s current research at the Broad are to understand the neurobiological mechanisms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and to develop new therapeutics to treat patients suffering from these psychiatric illnesses.
Sheng is a fellow of the Royal Society (UK), a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK), a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and honorary fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He has served on the editorial boards of Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience, and Current Opinions in Neurobiology. A recipient of the Young Investigator Award and the Julius Axelrod Prize of the Society for Neuroscience, and the Fondation Ipsen Prize in Neuronal Plasticity, Sheng is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications focused on the structure and plasticity of synapses and the molecular-cell biology of brain diseases.

Sheng received a B.A. (1st class honors) from Oxford University and obtained his medical degree and training at London University. His Ph.D. thesis was completed at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Michael Greenberg. Following postdoctoral research in the lab of Lily Jan at the University of California, San Francisco, Sheng was a faculty member and HHMI investigator in the Department of Neurobiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School before joining MIT.

Andrew Yang, UCSF 

Our lab studies the meaning, mechanisms, and disease relevance of protein and immune crosstalk at the critical interface where brain meets body: the blood-brain barrier (BBB). We develop molecular and chemical biology tools to understand the rules of trafficking across the BBB and the functional roles of diverse BBB cell types in neurodegenerative disease. I started our lab as a UCSF Sandler Fellow and will soon move to the Gladstone Institutes/ UCSF.

Bill Martin, Janssen

Bill leads the Neuroscience therapeutic area of Janssen Research & Development, LLC in discovering and developing important new therapies for people living with brain disorders. His role is focused on addressing areas where the greatest unmet needs in neuroscience remain, and where the biggest impacts can be made for patients and society, including serious mental illness (such as treatment-resistant depression and schizophrenia) and neurodegenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease). Despite the rich complexities and challenges associated with brain disorders, Bill and his team are firmly committed to ensuring a future where we can both predict and prevent these conditions, and ultimately improve lives and society on a global scale. 

Prior to joining Janssen R&D, Bill held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Blackthorn Therapeutics, and previously served as the company’s Chief Scientific Officer and Head of R&D. He co-founded Blackthorn, which integrates computational and clinical neuroscience and applies a precision medicine approach to creating novel therapeutics for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. 

Before Blackthorn, Bill held multiple leadership positions at Theravance Biopharma, including leading the company’s research portfolio planning initiative and serving as a member of the strategic partnership team and project team leader for an advanced clinical stage CNS program. He began his career at Merck, where he contributed to the strategic direction of the company’s Neuroscience franchise. 

Bill is also a member of the Board of Directors for Brown University’s Carney Institute for Brain Science and has held leadership positions in the Society for Neuroscience, the Alliance for Artifical Intelligence in Healthcare, the American Physiological Society and the International Brain Research Organization. He has published extensively on neuroscience and brain disorders, with more than 75 publications in scientific journals.

Bill received a bachelor’s in Psychology from Swarthmore College and a doctorate in Experimental Psychology from Brown University. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco. 


Dina Katabi, MIT

Dina Katabi is the Thuan and Nicole Pham Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. She is also the director of the MIT’s Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award. Professor Katabi received her PhD and MS from MIT in 2003 and 1999, and her Bachelor of Science from Damascus University in 1995. Katabi's research focuses on innovations in digital health, applied machine learning and wireless sensors and networks. Her research has been recognized with ACM Prize in Computing, the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, two SIGCOMM Test-of-Time Awards, the Faculty Research Innovation Fellowship, a Sloan Fellowship, the NBX Career Development chair, and the NSF CAREER award. Her students received the ACM Best Doctoral Dissertation Award in Computer Science and Engineering twice. Further, her work was recognized by the IEEE William R. Bennett prize, three ACM SIGCOMM Best Paper awards, an NSDI Best Paper award and a TR10 award. Several start-ups have beenspun out of Katabi's lab such as PiCharging and Emerald. 

Husseini Manji, Oxford University

Husseini K. Manji, MD, FRCPC is Co-chair of the UK Govt Mental Health Mission, Professor, Oxford University and Visiting Professor, Duke University. He is past Global Therapeutic Head for Neuroscience at Janssen Research & Development pharmaceutical companies, and Global Head, Science for Minds, J&J. Before joining J&J, Dr. Manji was Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Director of the NIH Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, the largest program of its kind in the world. He has been inducted into the National Academy of Medicine (NAM, formerly IOM), is  a member of the National Institutes of Health Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research  Advisory Committee, the World Dementia Council, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Future  Councils, the Board of Mass General-Brigham Incorporated; the Board of Trustees of Harvard University/McLean Hospital, the Board of the Dana Foundation, the Scientific Advisory Board of the  Stanley Center at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is recent chair of the National Academy  of Medicine Neuroscience, Behavior, Brain Function & Disorders group, co-chair of the Healthy  Brains Global Initiative, and has held numerous leadership positions within the NIH, NAM, the FNIH  Biomarkers Consortium Executive Committee. The major focus of Dr. Manji’s research is the  investigation of disease and treatment-induced changes in synaptic and neural plasticity in  neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Manji has helped to discover, develop, and launch several new  medications for serious neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. These include the first novel  antidepressant mechanism in over 30 years, the first medication in Neuroscience granted FDA  “Breakthrough designation”, a once every 6-month treatment for schizophrenia, novel mechanism(s) for Alzheimer’s Disease, multiple sclerosis among others. Dr. Manji also has been actively involved in developing biomarkers to help refine these multifactorial diseases, and to develop a holistic approach  towards neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. 

Dr. Manji has received a number of prestigious awards, including the NIMH Director's Career  Award for Significant Scientific Achievement, PhRMA Research & Hope Award for Excellence in  Biopharmaceutical Research, the American Federation for Aging Research Award of Distinction, the  A. E. Bennett Award for Neuropsychiatric Research, the Ziskind-Somerfeld Award for  Neuropsychiatric Research, the NARSAD Mood Disorders Prize, the Mogens Schou Distinguished  Research Award, the ACNP’s Joel Elkes Award for Distinguished Research, the DBSA Klerman  Senior Distinguished Researcher Award, the Briggs Pharmacology Lectureship Award, the Caring Kind Alzheimer’s Disease Leadership Award, and the Global Health & the Arts Award of Recognition,  and has also been recognized as one of 14 inaugural “Health Heroes” by Oprah magazine. Throughout  his career, Dr. Manji also has been committed to medical and neuroscience education and has been a  member of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NMBE), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Scholars Program, and numerous national curriculum committees. He founded and co directed the NIH Foundation for the Advanced Education in the Sciences Graduate Course in the Neurobiology of Neuropsychiatric Illness and has received several teaching and mentoring awards. He  has also served as Editor, and on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals, and has over 350  articles on the neurobiology of severe neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and  development of novel therapeutics. Additionally, publications on holistic approaches to treatment/care, including digital and psychological approaches (> 50, 000 citations; H-index: 125). 

Jen Pan, Broad Institute

Jen Q. Pan is an Institute Scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and is the Director of Translational Neurobiology at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. In the past few years, her research has focused on genes whose dysfunction has been implicated for psychiatric illnesses using molecular, cellular, and electrophysiological approaches, both in vitro and in animals. These risk genes include those implicated by Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and those implicated by rare coding mutations (i.e., SCHEMA). Dr. Pan has led the discovery of CaV3.3 channel potentiators that demonstrated in vivo efficacy in cognitive behaviors. In addition, she has led the Global Research Initiative of Neurophysiology of Schizophrenia (GRINS) study that characterize the sleep and wake EEG recordings of psychiatric patients and their utility as potential biomarkers. With her expertise in the ion channel physiology, she initiated the ICE-T (ion channel electrophysiology and technology) effort at Broad Institute and aims to find novel ways to modulate ion channels. Before joining the Broad Institute in 2008, Dr. Pan worked at Amgen Inc on target validation and drug discovery in neurological and psychiatric disorders. She received her BS in Chemistry from Nanjing University, and PhD in Neuroscience from Brown University.

Christopher Bartley, NIMH

Dr. Christopher Bartley received his B.S. and Ph.D. in neurobiology from Yale University. He subsequently graduated cum laude from Yale School of Medicine. He is Board Certified in Psychiatry, having completed Adult Psychiatry residency training at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) where he was awarded the Edwin F. Alston Award for Leadership in Psychiatry. He continued at UCSF as a research fellow in behavioral immunology in the laboratories of Drs. Sam Pleasure and Michael Wilson. His post-doctoral research was supported by the Hanna H. Gray Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a University of California Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the Deeda Blair Research Initiative for Disorders of the Brain Award from the Foundation of the National Institute of Health. He continued at UCSF as an instructor, where he oversaw a consultation clinic for individuals with comorbid autoimmune and psychiatric disorders. He recently joined the National Institute of Mental Health as the Chief of the Translational Immunopsychiatry Unit. His lab focuses on how neural circuit-specific autoimmune B and T cell responses contribute to behavioral pathology

Xiao Wang, Broad Institute, MIT

Xiao Wang is a core institute member and the Edward Scolnick Professor of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at MIT. At the Broad, she develops and applies new chemical, biophysical, and genomic tools to better understand brain function and dysfunction at the molecular level. 

Wang joined the Broad after conducting postdoctoral research at Stanford University with Professor Karl Deisseroth, where she was a postdoctoral fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation. At Stanford, she developed comprehensive methods for analyzing RNA in intact tissues that merge sequencing with imaging, in order to reveal the locations of various cell types in the brain and to find out how these cells are connected. Wang is also a recipient of a Merkin Institute Fellowship at the Broad.

Wang received her B.S. in chemistry and molecular engineering from Peking University in 2010, where she studied with Professor Jian Pei and helped develop fluorescent organic materials. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 2015, where she elucidated the cellular functions of RNA modifications with Professor Chuan He. During her graduate studies, Wang was awarded the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad and the Elizabeth R. Norton Prize for Excellence in Research in Chemistry. 

Evan Macosko, Broad Institute, MGH

Evan Macosko is an institute member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he directs a lab located in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. He is also an associate professor and attending psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. He and his lab invent and apply genomics technology to the study of brain diseases. Recently, his lab developed Slide-seq, a tool for localizing the expression of all genes in situ. They are applying this technology — together with high-throughput single-cell analysis — to uncover pathogenic mechanisms of neuropsychiatric diseases. Macosko is also a recipient of a Merkin Institute Fellowship.

Macosko received an A.B. in chemistry from Harvard College, and his M.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College. He earned a Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University in the lab of Cori Bargmann, where he characterized neural circuitry responsible for C. elegans social behavior. He completed residency training in psychiatry at McLean and Massachusetts General Hospitals. As a postdoctoral fellow with Steven McCarroll, he developed Drop-seq, a technology for measuring gene expression in thousands of individual cells at once.

Ben Deverman, Broad Institute

Ben Deverman is the director of the vector engineering research group at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he is also an institute scientist. The vector engineering team develops innovative gene delivery solutions for studying the central nervous system (CNS), with the aim of uncovering new avenues for treating psychiatric disorders. His group applies a variety of approaches including protein engineering, high-throughput in vivo selection and screening methods, and machine learning to develop novel AAV vectors that overcome pressing gene delivery challenges. In recent work, the Deverman team and collaborators found that the AAV-PHP.B family of capsids, which efficiently deliver genes throughout the mouse CNS, cross the blood-brain barrier by engaging a novel receptor on the vasculature, providing mechanistic insights that can be leveraged to engineer the next generation of AAV capsids for human CNS gene therapy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Deverman lab built and maintains COVID-19 CG, an interactive, open access browser to help vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics developers and public health officials track SARS-CoV-2 mutations and lineages by location and time.

Deverman joined the Broad in March 2018. Before this, he was the director of the CLARITY, Optogenetics and Vector Engineering Research (CLOVER) Center within the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology. At Caltech, Deverman and colleagues identified numerous capsids, including AAV-PHP.B and an enhanced variant, AAV-PHP.eB, that made efficient brain-wide gene delivery in the adult possible for the first time. AAV-PHP.B and AAV-PHP.eB are now in use in laboratories around the world and are enabling a wide range of translational and basic neuroscience experiments. Deverman led the generation of the panel of AAV-PHP capsids by developing a novel AAV selection method, called Cre Recombinase-based Targeted Evolution (CREATE), that uses Cre transgenics to select for AAVs that transduce defined target cell types.

Deverman has nearly 14 years of experience as a molecular biologist studying neuroscience and AAV engineering. As a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Deverman’s research focused on viral vector development and the roles of cytokines during neurodevelopment and in the context of demyelinating disease. He received a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from Washington University School of Medicine and a B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Detroit Mercy. In 2019 he received the Broad Institute Excellence Award in Mentorship, Teaching, and Training.

Paola Arlotta, Broad Institute, Harvard University

Dr. Paola Arlotta is the Golub Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and chair of the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB) at Harvard University. She is a principal investigator at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and an associate member of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She received her M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Trieste, Italy, and her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Portsmouth in the UK, and subsequently completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Arlotta’s work focuses on understanding the molecular laws that govern the birth, differentiation, and assembly of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Her lab integrates developmental and genomic approaches to elucidate the formation of cortical cellular diversity and the mechanistic underpinnings of neurodevelopmental disease. She has developed in vitro models of human cortical development, stem-cell derived brain organoids, and applies this model to understanding human cortical development and disease.

Nenad Sestan, Yale University School of Medicine

Nenad Sestan, MD, PhD, is the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Comparative Medicine, of Genetics and of Psychiatry, and a member of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at the Yale School of Medicine. He obtained his M.D. from the University of Zagreb and his Ph.D. in neurobiology from Yale University. Nenad Sestan’s laboratory investigates how neural circuits form within the developing cerebral cortex, the outside part of the mammalian brain that processes our senses, commands motor activity, and helps us perform higher-order cognitive functions like language. He also studies how neural circuits were modified during human evolution and may become compromised in neuropsychiatric disorders. Recently, his laboratory developed a perfusion system and synthetic cytoprotective acellular perfusate, they named BrainEx, that can restore circulation and cellular functions in the porcine brain after prolonged circulatory arrest and anoxia. This finding also indicates that cell death in the mammalian brain takes place over a longer period of time than previously thought, and that brain cells are considerably more robust to ischemic injury than previously assumed.

Nenad Sestan is the recipient of several international honors and awards, including memberships in the National Academy of Medicine, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, Nature’s 10 who mattered in science, Constance Lieber Prize, Krieg Cortical Discoverer Prize, NARSAD Distinguished Investigator, McDonnell Scholar, and Krieg Cortical Scholar. He has been a member of the BrainSpan, BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network, and PsychENCODE consortia.