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Scientists Strive to Understand How Environmental Events Can Alter DNA and the Brain

A two-day Academy symposium in Boston will examine advances in behavioral epigenetics.

Published October 06, 2010

The New York Academy of Sciences, the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and University Massachusetts, Boston will jointly present Behavioral Epigenetics, a two-day CME- and CE-accredited conference that will take place on October 29-30, 2010, at University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Scientific research in epigenetics has forever changed the way we think about how we are affected by our genetic makeup. The subdiscipline known as behavioral epigenetics has gained widespread attention lately for its approach to understanding how environmental events can create biochemical changes that ultimately dictate gene expression, whether at birth or 40 years down the road, and for revealing how chemical alterations to DNA can affect cognition and behavior.

A new landmark international program coordinated by the Academy, the Alpert Medical School, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston, will explore how environmental factors can effect alterations in behavior such as depression, addiction, schizophrenia, and learning- and neuro-developmental disorders by biochemically changing the function of genes or gene expression without affecting basic gene structure.

The October 29-30 symposium—one of the first major gatherings on this topic—will help delineate the emerging and fast-growing field of Behavioral Epigenetics by highlighting recent advances and challenges, as well as future research. The organizers anticipate that the symposium will be a critical step toward developing new targeted therapies for malfunctions in epigenetic modulation, and ultimately, benefit patients with depression, addiction, schizophrenia, and other neuro-developmental disorders.

WHAT: Behavioral Epigenetics, a two-day CME- and CE-accredited conference.

WHEN: October 29, 8:00AM – 8:30 PM, and October 30, 8:00 AM –7:00 PM

WHERE: University of Massachusetts, Boston Campus Center, Boston, Mass.

Barry Lester, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Professor of Pediatrics, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Director, Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk
Ed Tronick, PhD, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston; Chief, Child Development Unit, Children's Hospital, Boston; Lecturer in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Eric Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Director of the Mount Sinai Brain Institute, Chairman of the Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Ted Abel, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Barry Kosofsky, MD, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College
Christopher W. Kuzawa, PhD, Northwestern University
Ian Maze, PhD, Rockefeller University
Carmen Marsit, PhD, Brown University
Michael Meaney, PhD, McGill University
Lisa Monteggia, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Johannes M. H. M. Reul, PhD, University of Bristol, UK
David H. Skuse, PhD, University College London, UK
J. David Sweatt, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Marcelo Wood, PhD, University of California, Irvine

Participants will include not only established scientists but also new investigators presenting posters and joining panel discussions. Reduced registration fees and travel awards are available to young scientists. For more information about the agenda or speakers, please see Media must register in advance by contacting Adrienne Burke, Director, Public Outreach, New York Academy of Sciences, 212.298.8655,

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide since 1817. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, NYAS is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. NYAS' core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large.