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Our Complex Brains

  • Bourbon Blue 2 Rector Street Philadelphia, PA, 19127 United States (map)

Our final night will highlight complex processes regulated by our brains. First, we will learn about a novel technique, optogenetics, which uses light to control cells and how this has potential to cure diseases like chronic pain. Concussions, an underestimated epidemic, will be addressed from all angles including symptoms, sex differences, and what to do about them. Finally, we will learn how climate change affects our genetics, all the way up to influencing our behaviors.


Meet the Speakers


Dr. Nathan Fried

University of Pennsylvania

Using light to understand and cure pain: the future of optogenetics

Dr. Nathan Fried is a Neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania studying chronic pain and the opioid epidemic. During his talk, he will speak about how his lab harnesses a new technique, called optogenetics, that allows neuroscientists to activate neurons with flashes of blue light. In his work, he genetically engineers mice to "feel" the blue light in an effort to study the neurocircuitry of chronic pain. Come learn about this technique and how doctors may one day use it to simply "turn-off" pain with a flip of a light-switch.


Dr. Ramesh Raghupathi

Drexel University

The neuroscience of concussions — not just a problem for football players

In addition to football and hockey, we are beginning to recognize that in sports such as soccer, lacrosse, basketball and cheerleading are associated with an increased risk of concussions. Furthermore, girls are more likely to sustain a concussion, and appear to have different symptoms than boys. The talk will focus on what the different symptoms are, why they may happen, and what we can do about them. 



Dr. Sean O'Donnell

Professor of Biodiversity Earth & Environmental Science and Biology
Drexel University

This is your brain on climate change

In this talk I will explore how climate change, driven by global warming, will impact animals' nervous systems, including our own. Changing temperatures can affect some species' brain development directly, and temperature change can influence gene expression in the nervous system, possibly altering animal migration patterns and other behaviors. Ironically, human stress responses to climate emergencies may reduce our ability to take action in reducing climate change.


Dr. Peter J. Gaskill

Assistant Professor in Pharmacology and Physiology

Drexel University

Effects of Dopamine on HIV Infection

This talk will examine the impact of the neurotransmitter dopamine on the HIV infection process. Dopamine is a key player in addiction and is also important for learning, memory, cognition, motor function. Determining how the dopaminergic system interacts with HIV infection is critical to developing a better understanding of the long-term impacts of HIV infection in the central nervous system.