12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.




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.

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

Watch 2019's Rising Star Awardee Presentations below. 


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. Executive Committee 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.

2019 Rising Star Award Winners

  • Laura Lewis, PhD

    Dr. Lewis is Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. Her study, “Identifying intersecting network dynamics underlying sleep and mood in depression” focuses on the unexpected observation that sleep deprivation rapidly improves symptoms in roughly 50% of individuals with depression. Why this happens is unknown, and her research uses newly developed brain imaging techniques to understand the biological interactions between sleep and depression.

  • Stephan Lammel, MD, PhD

    Dr. Lammel is Assistant Professor of Neurobiology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on depression as well as addiction, including substance use disorder and severe eating disorders, which represent a major threat to public health and an enormous socioeconomic burden. Dr. Lammel’s study, entitled “Decoding multiple dimensions of dopamine signaling for impulse control” aims to provide a detailed understanding of how different brain circuits interact to mediate behavioral suppression (or fail to do so). 

  • Denise Cai, PhD

    Dr. Cai is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her research, entitled “Temporal memory-linking: a circuit mechanism of PTSD” investigates how memories of traumatic events can be linked across time and trigger a fearful response in a safe environment. Using state of the art genetic and brain imaging tools, her experiments will provide critical insight into how we integrate current and past experiences to make predictions about the future.

  • Jennifer M. Coughlin, MD

    Dr. Coughlin is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Her study “Transdiagnostic imaging of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in recent-onset psychosis” builds upon post-mortem studies that demonstrated alterations in binding to the receptor in selected regions of the brain.  She aims to use sophisticated imaging tools to further investigate these alterations and ultimately enable more targeted and effective treatments for schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

  • Carl Sellgren Majkowitz, MD, PhD

    Dr. Sellgren Majkowitz is Assistant Professor at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. His study, entitled “Targeting the rewiring of the connectome in adolescence to prevent schizophrenia” addresses key gaps in knowledge around the hypothesis that excessive synaptic pruning during brain development contributes to the observed reduction in synapse density in schizophrenia. 

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