2021 Scientific Symposium Speakers to be Announced



Victor J. Dzau, MD

President of the National Academy of Medicine. Vice Chair of the National Research Council. Chancellor Emeritus and James B. Duke Professor of medicine at Duke University and past President and CEO of the Duke University Health System. Co-Chairman of the Healthy Brains Global Initiative. 

Dr. Dzau is an internationally acclaimed leader and scientist whose work has improved health care in the United States and globally. His seminal work in cardiovascular medicine and genetics laid the foundation for the development of the class of lifesaving drugs known as ACE inhibitors, used globally to treat hypertension and heart failure. Dr. Dzau pioneered gene therapy for vascular disease and was the first to introduce DNA decoy molecules to block transcriptions in humans in vivo. His pioneering research in cardiac regeneration led to the Paracrine Hypothesis of stem cell action and his recent strategy of direct cardiac reprogramming using microRNA. He maintains an active NIH-funded research laboratory.


Michelle G. Craske, PhD

Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Miller Endowed Chair. Director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center. Associate Director of the Staglin Family Music Center for Behavioral and Brain Health, at the University of California, Los Angeles. Director, Innovative Treatment Network, UCLA Depression Grand Challenge. 

For more than three decades, Dr. Craske has been trying to understand what makes some people prone to anxiety and depression. She's studied what biomarkers, behaviors and thinking patterns contribute to these conditions, and how to use that knowledge to develop better treatments. Craske's research aims to make people with depression — or those prone to depression — more motivated to work toward and to savor rewards. This "reward sensitivity" is often dampened by depression and Craske thinks it's an avenue for potential treatments to target. For example, in her studies of the effects of kindness and compassion on depression, she has found that training people how to more regularly engage in acts of kindness can ease their symptoms. Craske and colleagues also are studying how to integrate virtual reality into treatment for anxiety and depression.

The 2020 Rising Star Award Winners will present their innovative research projects. Q&A sessions will follow.

2020 Rising Star Award Winners

  • Kevin T. Beier, PhD

    Dr. Kevin T. Beier is Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California, Irvine. Depression is a complex disorder with highly variable clinical presentations. Dr. Beier aims to elucidate biological mechanisms influencing this variability by linking specific depressive behaviors to cellular activity in defined neuronal circuits in the brain. Dr. Beier will then use mathematical and network modeling techniques to integrate anatomical and functional connectivity on a brain-wide scale. These maps will provide a foundation for the development of biomarkers and more effective, targeted treatments.

  • Gregory A. Fonzo, PhD

    Dr. Fonzo is Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. Transcranial Low Intensity Focused Ultrasound Pulsation (LIFUP) is a novel and promising approach for reversibly augmenting brain function because it is able to reach regions deep within the brain, such as the amygdala, that are critically implicated in psychiatric illness. To develop and validate a LIFUP amygdala neuromodulation protocol for bipolar disorder, as well as other psychiatric illnesses, Dr. Fonzo aims to a) demonstrate target engagement and modulation in healthy individuals; b) map the neural circuitry responses associated with amygdala down modulation; and c) determine if repetitive LIFUP amygdala down modulation demonstrates therapeutic benefit.

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