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.

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 Assistant 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


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 (Postdoctoral)

Dr. Jennifer Blaze (Akbarian Lab)

Dr. Jacqueline-Marie Ferland (Hurd Lab)

Dr. Catarina Ferreira (Castellano Lab)

Dr. Pierre-Olivier Gaudreault (Goldstein Lab)

Dr. Anthony Lacagnina (Clem Lab)

Dr. Anirudh Sattiraju (Friedel and Zou Labs)


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 (Predoctoral)

Zhe Dong (Cai Lab)

Amni Al-Kachak (Maze Lab)

Emma Lehmann (Kenny Lab)

Zarmeen Mussa (Tsankova Lab)

Angelica Minier-Toribio (Nestler Lab)

Nick Upright (Baxter Lab)


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.

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