About Us

Riverside Church

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

NOTE: Riverside Church requires proof of vaccination. 

All Mount Sinai employees must bring their Mount Sinai ID which will double as both your vaccination card as well as your name tag. If, for some reason, your Mount Sinai ID does not have a Covid sticker on it, you must bring some other form of proof of vaccination.

Retreat Organizers

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

Roland Friedel, PhD
Associate Professor: Neuroscience & Neurosurgery

Daniela Schiller, PhD
Professor: Psychiatry & Neuroscience

Keynote Speakers

Hirofumi (Hiro) Morishita, MD, PhD
Professor: Psychiatry, Ophthalmology & Neuroscience

Erin Rich, PhD
Associate Professor: Neuroscience


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

Venetia Zachariou, PhD
Professor: Neuroscience & Pharmacological Sciences

Kelsey Lucerne
PhD Student  
Kiraly Lab

Zachary Pennington, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Cai Lab

Duo 1

Duo 2

Silvia De Rubeis, PhD
Associate Professor: Psychaitry

Zhuhao Wu, PhD
Assistant Professor: Cell, Developmental & Regenerative Biology & Neuroscience

Hongyan (Jenny) Zou, MD, PhD
Professor: Neurosurgery & Neuroscience

Dolores Hambardzumyan, PhD, MBA
Associate Professor: Oncological Sciences & Neurosurgery

Duo 3

Duo 4

Laura Berner, PhD
Assistant Professor: Psychiatry

Vincenzo Fiore, PhD
Assistant Professor: Psychiatry

Ignacio Saez, PhD
Assistant Professor: Neuroscience, Neurosurgery & Neurology

Fedor (Ted) Panov
Assistant Professor: Neurosurgery

Postdoc and Student speakers

Sanan Venkatesh
PhD Student
Roussos and Voloudakis Labs

Zoé Christenson Wick, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Shuman Lab

Ana Catarina Ferreira, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Castellano Lab

Insup Choi, PhD
Yue Lab

Kevin Braunscheidel, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Kenny Lab

JoColl Burgess, PhD
Graduate Student
Goosens Lab

Azzurra Invernizzi, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Horton Lab

Audrey Warren
PhD Student
Wacker Lab

Leanne Holt, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Nestler Lab

Kaustubh Kulkarni
PhD Student
Schiller/Gu Lab

Sarah Montgomery
PhD Student
Han Lab

Sangjo Kang, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Friedel Lab

Joe Zaki
PhD Student
Cai and Rajan Labs

Susana Isabel Ramos, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Tsankova Lab

Saraswathi Subramaniyan, PhD
Postdoctural Fellow
Pereira Lab

J. Megan Fredericks
PhD Student
Rudebeck Lab

Retreat Administrators

Vena Persaud
Executive Assistant

Jenny Rivera
Administrative Director

Veronica Szarejko
Project Manager

Danny Roldan
Web Content Specialist



Check-in at South Hall Lobby, Coffee in Assembly Hall


8:55 am

Brief intro Xiaosi Gu & Roland Friedel


9:00 am

Eric Nestler on Friedman Brain Institute


9:15 am

Paul Kenny on Nash Family Department of Neuroscience


9:30 am

George Huntley on Graduate Student Program


9:40 am

Vanna Zachariou on new T32 Addiction Program


9:50 am

Keynote Speaker 1: Hirofumi (Hiro) Morishita “Maturation of Frontal Circuits for Cognitive and Social Behavior”


10:20 am

Coffee Break in Assembly Hall


10:40 am

Duo 1: Silvia Rubeis & Zhuhao Wu: Global mapping of altered neural circuits in a mouse model of DDX3X mutations”


11:00 am

Duo 2: Hongyan (Jenny) Zou & Dolores Hambardzumyan: “Mapping niche-specific immune contexture in GBM”


11:20 am

Kevin Braunscheidel:“Nicotine CCK-ing: evidence for brain-body interactions underlying drug addiction”


11:30 am

Insup Choi: “Roles of Microglial Autophagy in Alzheimer’s Disease”


11:40 am

Data Blitz 1

Audrey Warren: “Structural studies of psychedelic activity at the serotonin receptors 5-HT1A”

Sarah Montgomery: “Dopamine and naturalist behavior”

Leanne Holt: “Elucidation of the Astrocyte-Specific Transcriptome Following Exposure to Cocaine”

Saraswathi Subramaniyan: “Selective vulnerability of excitatory molecular signaling networks in Alzheimer’s disease”

Susana Isabel Ramos: “Mapping pre- and postnatal gliogenesis in the human neocortex using snATAC-seq”

Sango Kang: “A two-phase response of microglia to glioblastoma invasion governed by host age, immune status and Plexin-B2”


12:10 pm

Boxed Lunch Start (in South Hall + Lobby)


12:30 pm

Poster Session 1 (in South Hall + Lobby)


1:30 pm

(Assembly Hall)

Zachary Pennington – Postdoc Association

Kelsey Lucerne – MINDS


1:40 pm

Keynote Speaker 2: Erin Rich: “Neurons, populations, and tuning curves: Neural coding for flexible cognition in prefrontal cortex”


2:10 pm

Duo 3: Laura Berner & Vincenzo Fiore: “Too sticky to stop: Impaired belief updating and devaluation in bulimia nervosa”


2:30 pm

Duo 4: Ignacio Saez & Fedor (Ted) Panov: “Human intracranial research in epilepsy patients”


2:50 pm

Coffee Break


3:10 pm

Megan Fredericks: “Neural circuit in learning”


3:20 pm

JoColl Burgess: “Longitudinal caicum imaging in fear conditioning”


3:30 pm

Data Blitz 2

Sanan Venkatesh: “Transcriptome Wide Association Study of Individually Imputed Genetically Regulated Gene Expression in the Million Veteran Program”

Kaustubh Kulkarni: “Computational mechanisms of craving and addictive decision-making”

Azzurra Invernizzi: “Shifts in local neuroplasticity in World Trade Center responders with post-traumatic stress disorder”

Yosif Zaki: “How does a fearful experience alter past memories?”

Zoé Christenson Wick:Closed-loop control /seizure and cognition”

Ana Catarina Ferreira: “TIMP2 remodeling of the extracellular matrix regulates hippocampus-dependent cognitive function and plasticity”


4:00 pm

Poster Session 2 / Reception (in South Hall + Lobby)


5:20 pm

Award Ceremony


5:40 pm


Visiting Artist

Alex Cagan

Alex Cagan is a scientific illustrator who specialises in live-sketching of scientific talks. Alex is also a geneticist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute where he studies the role of somatic mutations in aging and disease.

Read more on Twitter.


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, a select committee from the Friedman Brain Institute leadership chooses the awardee.

Exemplary Citizenship Award – $1000

Neuroscience Mentorship Distinction Award (NMDA) ($500): The Neuroscience Mentorship Distinction Award (NMDA) is presented to a Neuroscience MTA faculty member that exemplifies exceptional mentorship, dedication to trainee well-being, and career development and commitment to the educational mission of Mount Sinai and the community.

DiverseBrains Award ($250) – The DiverseBrains Award is presented to a student, postdoc, faculty, or staff who has worked above and beyond to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and good climate within the Friedman Brain Institute.

Postdoc presentation – The top two abstracts submitted by a postdoc and is selected to present a 10 min talk.

2 Postdocs – $250 each

Student presentation  – The top two abstracts submitted by a student and is selected to present a 10 min talk.

2 students – $250 each

Best Data Blitz: The top twelve abstracts submitted by a student and postdoc are selected to present a Data Blitz.

Postdoc – First place ($200)

Student – First place ($200) 

10 Runners-up ($50 each)

Best Images  

  • 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

Cover of Biological Psychiatry Journal – The Biological Psychiatry team, led by Dr. John H. Krystal, Editor for Biological Psychiatry, will choose their favorite image to be highlighted on the cover of Biological Psychiatry.