About Us


The Friedman Brain Institute hosts a Neuroscience Retreat held in the spring of each year. Neuroscience is multidisciplinary by nature and, reflecting this, the scientists and physicians that contribute to the neurosciences at Mount Sinai hail from a variety of departments and campuses. The Retreat provides an opportunity for everyone in the Neuroscience community at Mount Sinai – faculty, fellows, students, researchers and clinicians – to meet and discuss their work in order to increase awareness of ongoing research and approaches, to foster new interactions, and to generate novel ideas.

Zoom information:
Webinar ID: 829 3902 2707
Passcode: 554561

For additional information, please contact Vena Persaud at vena.persaud@mssm.edu or Veronica Szarejko at veronica.szarejko@mssm.edu

Keynote Speakers

Retreat Organizers

Xiaosi Gu, PhD
Director of the Center for Computational Psychiatry, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Scott Russo, PhD
Endowed Chair, Mount Sinai Professor in Affective Neuroscience,
Director of the Center for Affective Neuroscience, and Professor of Neuroscience

Jessica Ables, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry

Tristan Shuman, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry

Retreat Administrators

Vena Persaud
Executive Assistant

Jenny Rivera
Administrative Director

Danny Roldan
Web Development Coordinator

Veronica Szarejko
Marketing Coordinator


Eric J Nestler, MD, PhD
Director, Friedman Brain Institute
Paul J Kenny, PhD
Chairman, Nash Family Department of Neuroscience
George Huntley, PhD
Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program

Lightning Data Blitz (Postdocs)

Lightning Data Blitz (Students)

Jennifer Blaze
Akbarian Lab

Jacqueline-Marie Ferland
Hurd Lab

Zhe Dong
Cai Lab

Amni Al-Kachak
Maze Lab

Catarina Ferreira
Castellano Lab

Dr. Pierre-Olivier Gaudreault
Goldstein Lab

Emma Lehmann
Kenny Lab

Zarmeen Mussa
Tsankova Lab

Anthony Lacagnina
Clem Lab

Anirudh Sattiraju
Friedel and Zou Labs

Angelica Minier-Toribio
Nestler Lab

Nick Upright
Baxter Lab



Welcome Remarks

Dr. Jessica Ables – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Tristan Shuman – Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience


9:05 am

Updates on Strategic Goals of the Friedman Brain Institute

Eric Nestler – Director, Freidman Brain Institute

Paul Kenny – Chair, Nash Family Department of Neuroscience

George Huntley – Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program


10am – 10:30am

Keynote Speaker #1

Dr. Xiaosi Gu

“The social brain: cells, circuits, and computations”


10:30am – 10:45am

Lightning DataBlitzes (Postdocs)

Dr. Jennifer Blaze (Akbarian Lab)

“Neuronal Nsun2 deficiency is associated with codon-specific epitranscriptomic dysregulation of Gly-tRNAs and corresponding proteomic shift impacting synaptic signaling and behavior”


Dr. Jacqueline-Marie Ferland (Hurd Lab)

“Adolescent THC affects stress and cognition via likely recruitment of the tripartite synapse.”


Dr. Catarina Ferreira (Castellano Lab)

“TIMP2 regulates hippocampus-dependent cognitive function”


Dr. Pierre-Olivier Gaudreault (Goldstein Lab)

“Whole-brain white matter microstructure abnormalities in human cocaine-use disorder”


Dr. Anthony Lacagnina (Clem Lab)

“Hippocampal somatostatin interneurons implicated in fear extinction memory retrieval”


Dr. Anirudh Sattiraju (Friedel and Zou Labs)

“Influence of immunity on tumor hypoxia and hypoxia-induced immunosuppression during glioblastoma progression”


10:45am – 10:55am


Interactive Interlude


10:55am – 11:25am

Keynote Speaker #2

Dr. Scott Russo

“Immune-Brain Interface in Stress Disorders”


11:25am – 11:40am

Lightning DataBlitzes (Students)

Zhe Dong (Cai Lab)

“The paradox of a stable memory representation in the presence of representational drift”


Amni Al-Kachak (Maze Lab)

“Histone serotonylation: a novel regulator of stress-induced neuroplasticity”


Emma Lehmann (Kenny Lab)

“A stress-responsive circular RNA regulates depression-like behavioral abnormalities in mice”


Zarmeen Mussa (Tsankova Lab)

“Single nuclei transcriptomics relates glioblastoma heterogeneity to fetal neurodevelopment”


Angelica Minier-Toribio (Nestler Lab)

“The impact of social stress on approach-avoidance behaviors”


Nick Upright (Baxter Lab)

“Pathway-specific chemogenetic neuromodulation enhances working memory in rhesus monkeys”


11:40am – 12:40pm

Online Interactive Poster Session



12:40pm – 1pm

Awards Announcements and Closing


Our awards ceremony is one of the highlights of the retreat. We are thrilled to honor the outstanding students, postdocs and faculty that make up the Friedman Brain Institute membership.

Philip Hausfeld Memorial Scholarship Award ($5,000)

Brain Award ($2,000): The Brain Award is given to a student with the best record of achievement in neuroscience.

Postdoc Award ($2,000): PI, self- and peer- nominations are submitted to the Retreat Committee, The Retreat Organizers choose the awardee.

Neuroscience Mentorship Distinction Award (NMDA) ($500): The Neuroscience Mentorship Distinction Award is given by Neuroscience PhD students and postdocs to an outstanding mentor in the Neuroscience MTA. This mentor is recognized as exemplifying dedication to trainee well-being, career development and commitment to the educational mission of our institution and community.

Best Data Blitz: The top abstracts submitted by a student and postdoc are selected to present a Data Blitz.
Student – First place ($250)
Postdoc – First place ($250)
10 Runners-up ($50 each)

Scavenger hunt
3 prizes – $100 each

Interludes during breaks
2 prizes – $100 each

Call for Images Competition:
First place ($200)
Second place ($100)
Third place ($50)

Most “Liked” Social Media Image
Every image that is submitted is uploaded to all of the Friedman Brain Institute’s social media platforms – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
* The image that receives the most combined “likes” will win! *
First place ($200)
Second place ($100)
Third place ($50)

An exciting new prize for this year’s “Call for Images” Competition is the cover of Biological Psychiatry Journal. The Biological Psychiatry team, led by Dr. John H. Krystal, Editor for Biological Psychiatry, is choosing their favorite image to be highlighted on the cover of Biological Psychiatry.

New Prize – Image on the cover of Biological Psychiatry

Retreat give-away

Everyone that registered before March 26th and joins the Zoom meeting on April 30th will receive a FBI Beach Towel.

** In order to receive the Beach Towel, when logging into Zoom, you MUST sign in with your name and Mount Sinai email address (John Dow john.dow@mssm.edu or John Dow john.dow@mountsinai.org).

Please note that only icahn.mssm.edu, mssm.edu and mountsinai.org email accounts are eligible to receive the FBI Beach Towel.