Carnegie Mellon University
November 01, 2019

Neuro Week: Celebrating Innovation in Brain Research at CMU

Caroline Sheedy
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It’s Neuro Week at Carnegie Mellon University, and the Neuroscience Institute is sponsoring several thought-provoking events to celebrate the innovative brain research conducted across CMU's Pittsburgh campus.

“The university has been a leader in the study of brain and behavior for more than 50 years,” said Neurocience Institute Director Barbara Shinn-Cunningham. “In the past few years we’ve seen a confluence of interdisciplinary work from faculty and students across the university that is unprecedented. The Neuroscience Institute was formed to support that work, and we have a lot to celebrate.”

The Neuroscience Institute comprises faculty from five of CMU’s seven schools and colleges, harnessing the university’s core strengths in cognitive science, computation, data science, biology and engineering. Throughout Neuro Week, a number of faculty, students and postdoctoral fellows will be featured for their groundbreaking research in understanding how the brain works.

The celebration kicks off Monday, Nov. 4 with a welcome by Carnegie Mellon President Farnam Jahanian, Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science Rebecca W. Doerge, Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humaniites and Social Sciences Richard Scheines, and Shinn-Cunningham. 

“Whether researchers are bringing computational methods, biological research, engineering principles or genetic modeling to the study of the brain, the evolution of cognitive science demands that we synthesize all of these different approaches to enhance our overall understanding of the brain,” Jahanian said. “This is precisely why we launched the Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute in 2018 as a university-wide institute dedicated to catalyzing research and education at the cross-section of all our strengths.”

Following the welcome, a symposium on leveraging technology to beat brain disease will feature a keynote by Robert Bowser from the Barrow Neurological Institute. Bowser is an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon and an internationally recognized leader in research on ALS. 

Bowser’s research helped discover and validate biomarkers for ALS. These biomarkers can be useful diagnostic indicators, predictors of progression and help determine the effectiveness of drugs in clinical trials for the disease.

Monday of Neuro Week includes a panel discussion moderated by Jon Hamilton, a correspondent for NPR’s Science Desk who focuses on neuroscience and health risks.


In this NPR segment,  Jon Hamilton talks with CMU’s Marcel Just on how anger in human brains looks surprisingly similar across people (4:12).

Shinn-Cunningham will be involved in events throughout Neuro Week and will be honored with the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professorship in Auditory Neuroscience on Wednesday.

On Thursday, CMU will award the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Science to renowned neuroscientist Eve Marder of Brandeis University. Marder’s pioneering cross-disciplinary work in neural circuits embodies the kind of work Shinn-Cunningham wants to see at CMU.

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Eve Marder will receive the Andrew Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences.

Neuro Week also includes a panel discussion on diversity in science Thursday, and finishes up on Friday with a lecture on the neuroscience of laughter by Sophie Scott of the University College London.

To join the week’s events or learn more, click here