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2016 Neuroscience Retreat

On Sunday July 31 – Monday August 1, 2016, the WVU Centers for Neuroscience held its annual Neuroscience Retreat, at Canaan Valley Resort in Davis, WV. This year’s retreat attracted 150 attendees from multiple departments across campus: 45 faculty members (non-clinical); 55 graduate students; 14 postdoctoral fellows and research associates; 21 undergraduate students; 9 clinical faculty and residents; 4 senior leaders; and 2 staff members.

The retreat kicked off on Sunday morning with a symposium for new faculty members (either new to the University or to the CN). Speakers in this session included Edwin Wan, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, & Cell Biology; Werner Geldenhuys, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Dr. Judith Feinberg, MD, Professor in the Department of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Addiction Research Group; Saravanan (Saro) Kolandaivelu, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology; and David Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry.

Over lunch on Sunday, attendees had the opportunity to learn about the microbiome and the brain, in a special panel session featuring guest lecturer Cecil Lewis, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. Other panelists included James W. Simpkins, PhD, Director of the Center for Basic & Translational Stroke Research; Peter Mathers, PhD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology; and Allie Karshenas, PharmD, Associate VP of Clinical Operations & Institutional Advancement. 

This panel discussion was followed by the first poster session, during which faculty members formally judged the posters of graduate students that were nominated to present, for a prize. 

Graduate student poster session

After the poster session, and new this year, the mixer featured a Shark Tank competition, during which seven contestants (teams or individuals) presented their ideas to a panel of Sharks (aka, judges) in the hopes that the Office of Health Sciences Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship would fund their invention or product. The evening wrapped up with a cookout dinner in the outdoor pavilion, overlooking the beautiful landscape of Canaan Valley.

Monday began with an early morning student symposium, during which four graduate students presented their research to the group. Presenters during this session were Neal Shah, a pharmaceutical sciences graduate student in Dr. Lockman’s lab; Jenny Ozga, a psychology graduate student in Dr. Anderson’s lab; Kate Allen, a biology graduate student in Dr. Marsat’s lab; and Chris Bauer, a neuroscience graduate student in Drs. Brefczynski-Lewis’s and Dr. Montgomery-Downs’s labs.

Monday morning concluded with the second poster session, during which graduate students had the opportunity to judge the posters of undergraduate students – a good experience for both groups! Lunch was served alongside institutional updates, during which Drs. Gibson, Cilento, and Spirou briefed the group on the exciting things happening around campus. At this session, Dr. Spirou made a formal announcement that WVU will be acquiring the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI), and that the Centers for Neuroscience will soon fall under that umbrella.

The Retreat wrapped up on Monday afternoon with the nt/ns teams symposium, when the teams that were awarded pilot funding updated the group on the progress of their projects.

All in all, the retreat was a success, thanks in large part to all those who attended. The Neuroscience Retreat is intended to boost awareness, facilitate multidisciplinary scientific exchange, and create cross-collaborations in the hopes of increasing translational research among members of the Centers for Neuroscience, including scientists, researchers, clinicians, faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students.

For more information, please visit or contact the Centers for Neuroscience office.