Foundation News

For world news on neuroscience, check out our Latest News. To view our past events, click here.


The brains of pairs of animals synchronize during social interaction

UCLA RESEARCH BRIEF Alice Walton | June 20, 2019   FINDINGS UCLA researchers have observed that the brains of pairs of animals synchronize during social situations. The synchronized activity not only arose during various types of social behavior, but also the level of synchronization actually predicted how much the animals would interact. The team also found […]

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Identifying the Genetic Origin of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population worldwide. More than 2 million Americans suffer from the illness in a given year. Despite extensive studies, the causes of schizophrenia have yet to be determined.

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2016 Neuroscience Day

The Brain Research Foundation hosted the 16th Annual Neuroscience Day on Friday, January 22, 2016.  Neuroscience Day is an annual event sponsored by the Brain Research Foundation that introduces new, exciting research through poster presentations and lectures. This unique forum encourages scientific interaction among universities and gives the Chicago-area neuroscience community a chance to meet and share interests in an informal setting. Graduate Students and Postdocs sign up to present a poster with a chance to win $500. Along with poster presentations, the day is filled with highly renowned guest speakers.

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2015 Discovery Dinner

The Annual Discovery Dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 27, raised over $1.1 million for promising early-stage brain research. The Discovery Dinner host committee, with guest MC and CBS2 host Rob Johnson, will welcome and treat friends, donors and supporters to an evening of education and discussion and will honor curators of the local scientific community.

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2016 Neuroscience Day

The 16th Annual Neuroscience Day will  be held on Friday, January 22, 2016 at the Lurie Medical Research Center of Northwestern University, located at 303 E. Superior Street, Chicago, IL (at the corner of Fairbanks and Superior). Neuroscience Day is an annual event sponsored by the Brain Research Foundation that introduces new, exciting research through poster presentations and lectures. This unique forum encourages scientific interaction among universities and gives the Chicago-area neuroscience community a chance to meet and share interests in an informal setting. This event is free. Click here for more information.

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2015 Annual Discovery Dinner

Please reserve the evening of October 27, 2015 for the Brain Research Foundation’s Annual Discovery Dinner. For more information or to make a donation and/or purchase tickets, please call 312-759-5150 or email Terri Reniva at

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Haymarket Golf Outing

SAVE THE DATE!!!! Join the Associate Board of the Brain Research Foundation for some summertime fun at the 4th Annual Haymarket Golf Outing. TICKETS ON SALE NOW. CLICK HERE.

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White Sox Event

Join the Associate Board of the Brain Research Foundation for some summertime fun at US Cellular Field. The Chicago White Sox will take on the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 1:10pm. Tickets are $25 and are located in sections 102 & 103. 
Tickets must be purchased through the BRF or an Associate Board Member. Tickets cannot be mailed. No refunds. Please contact us at or 312-759-5150 for more information or to purchase tickets. For additional details, Download the Flyer.

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2015 SIA Winners

Congratulations to the 2015 SIA Winners

Guoping Feng, Ph.D.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Disruption of the Shank3 gene in a primate model for studying ASD


Brain disorders represent a great societal burden but are among the least understood of all diseases; for psychiatric disorders in particular, the underlying pathologies are largely unknown and treatment is mostly ineffective. Many brain disorders have a genetic component, and advances in genomic technologies have led to the identification of many risk genes. Understanding how risk genes may cause or contribute to the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders requires studies of brain function in animal models with genetic alterations that mimic those of human patients. Current animal model studies are largely focused on mice, but mice are imperfect models for many aspects of human biology, particularly neuroscience, given the vast differences in brain and behavior between the two species. The difficulty of modeling complex brain functions and behaviors in mice is an important obstacle both to basic research and to the development of new treatments for human brain disorders. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop animal models that are more close humans in the brain structure and function. In this application, we propose to generate a marmoset (a small primate) model of autism by disrupting the Shank3 gene, which causes autism when mutated in humans. We will use this primate model to further our understanding of neurobiological basis of autism related behaviors. These studies may lead to the identification of novel disease mechanisms and neurobiological targets for drug development foe ASD. More generally, the proposed project, if successful, will establish the marmoset as a primate genetic model for the study of psychiatric disorders.

Kristen Harris, Ph.D.

University of Texas – Austin

Synaptome of a Memory

A longstanding question in neuroscience concerns the cellular mechanisms of learning and memory. Since synapses were first discovered as the sites of communication between neurons, scientists have thought that changes in their number or structure would be a likely substrate of memory. Although evidence has accumulated, proof of this hypothesis has been elusive. Addressing this question requires substantial improvement in understanding how the brain is wired, namely, the “connectome”. Ultimately, the connectome will contain a map of the location and type of every synapse in the brain. The synaptome of a memory, sensation, or behavior is quite different from the co nectome of a brain region because these experiences likely involve a subset of synapses distributed across different brain regions. Hence, to understand mechanisms, it is necessary to know which specific synapses were involved. Detecting synapses and their subcellular components requires the nanoscale resolution of serial section electron microscopy, an approach that has been pioneered in my laboratory. We propose new strategies that will for the first time, provide specific identification of the progression and ultrastructural consequences of activity-dependent synapse remodeling in a cellular mechanism of learning and memory, a crucial first step in defining the synaptome of a memory. Nothing like this has ever been done before and the findings are crucial not only to understand the basic neuroscience and development of learning and memory, but also to illuminate synaptic dysfunction in prominent disease states, such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Thomas Jessel, Ph.D.

Columbia University

The Functional Logic of Inhibitory Microcircuits

Collectively, these studies will provide crucial insights into the construction and function of inhibitory microcircuits controlling movement. Importantly, they will provide an essential foundation for interpreting behavioral experiments assessing the contribution of V1 and other inhibitory interneurons to locomotor or skilled forelimb reaching tasks, where descending and sensory feedback systems are essential24. Because many of the transcription factors identified here (e.g. Sp8, Nr4a2, and Lmo3 among others) are also expressed in inhibitory interneurons in the brain25-27, characterizing spinal interneuron diversity may prove useful for dissecting inhibitory circuits in other systems. Finally, given the emerging view that neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders result in part from dysfunction of inhibitory circuitry13, the studies outlined here should provide significant insight into the functional organization of inhibition in both development and disease.


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Lisa’s Story

In October 1958, Margaret and Bill Fay noticed that their 10-month-old daughter Lisa was having small, involuntary tremors. As time passed, Lisa began having seizures which came more frequently and with increased intensity. This led the Fays on a long journey to find answers and treatments for their little girl.

In desperation, they took Lisa to various specialists around the country. That is when they met Dr. Frederic A. Gibbs at the University of Illinois. Dr. Gibbs was a leading neurologist involved in researching the causes, diagnoses and treatments of epilepsy.

The Fays finally found some hope and treatments for Lisa, but Bill quickly realized that there were only hypotheses about brain function, no facts. He understood that in order to understand pediatric epilepsy one needed to have answers as to how the entire brain functioned, not just focus on one area or one disease. Coincidentally, in 1953 Dr. Gibbs had just organized a group of doctors to form the beginning of what is now known as the Brain Research Foundation. Bill and his family decided to wholeheartedly support this Foundation, along with the Clinton E. Frank family. Both men were passionate about enlisting business leaders to join them in supporting their vision. Bill’s leadership was critical in creating a foundation that became one of the country’s oldest and most innovative organizations supporting brain research.

In 1982 bill retired from Smith Barney & Company as Executive Vice President. As Chairman Emeritus of the Brain Research Foundation, Bill remained dedicated to our mission and called into every board meeting. Bill enjoyed his retirement in the Village of Golf, Florida and claimed that his secret to staying young was swimming in his pool every day and playing bridge three times a week.

Lisa has a fulfilling job at a daycare facility and lives independently.

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Neuroscience Day 2015

Brain Research Foundation
Presents the
15th Annual Neuroscience Day
Attention: Please Forward to Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and other Neuroscientists The 15th Annual Neuroscience Day will be held at the Lurie Medical Research Center
of Northwestern University
(303 E. Superior Street, Chicago)
Friday, January 23, 2015 9:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. 9-11:30am – Poster Presentations Graduate Students and Postdocs sign up to present a poster with a chance to win $500
11:30am-4pm – Lectures
Jason MacLean, Ph.D., University of Chicago
Christopher Moore, Ph.D., Brown University
Gordon Shepherd, Ph.D., Northwestern University
Anthony Zador., Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
(Order of speakers TBD)
To learn more details about Neuroscience Day Posters and Lectures,
Please forward this announcement on to any neuroscientists that might be interested in presenting or attending. Send questions to

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2015 Neuroscience Day

The Brain Research Foundation hosts the 15th Annual Neuroscience Day on Friday, January 23, 2015.  Neuroscience Day is an annual event sponsored by the Brain Research Foundation that introduces new, exciting research through poster presentations and lectures. This unique forum encourages scientific interaction among universities and gives the Chicago-area neuroscience community a chance to meet and share interests in an informal setting. There is no fee to attend this event. Read more and sign up.

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Ann Strain Taradash Memorial Fund

Ann Strain Taradash died November 3 at her home from complications due to a stroke. She suffered from Parkinson’s and white matter diseases which caused her cognitive and physical problems. Ann was an amazing mother, grandmother, wife and friend. She grew up in Dalton, Georgia, relocated to Chicago where she lived for 26 years, then returned to Georgia 18 years ago where she lived out the remainder of life. She was well known and respected for her long career in the shopping center industry.

She is preceded in death by her parents Frank & Martha Strain,  survived by her loving husband Terry Lynam, only daughter Tana Hall, daughter-in-law Kathy Henry Hall, precious granddaughter Rynn Hall and her sisters Rita Sims, Ginger Helmuth and Sarah Triton.

A celebration of her life will be held for close friends and family. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund is established in her name at the Brain Research Foundation based in Chicago. Click here to Make A Donation.

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2014 Annual Discovery Dinner

Please reserve the evening of October 22, 2014 for the Brain Research Foundation’s Annual Discovery Dinner Honoring 2014 recipients of the Frederic Gibbs Discovery Award:

Founder’s Award: William E. Fay, Jr.

Philanthropic Leadership Award: Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz

Dinner Chairs
Joan and Richard Kohn
Alicia and Peter Pond

Please join us at the dinner. Reception begins at 6:00 pm followed by dinner at 7:00 pm. 

For more information, please contact PJH & Associates, Inc. at 312.553.2000 or visit

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2014 Symposium

Gene-Environment Interactions and their Role in Intervention Research

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FREE Science is Sexy Lecture

Join us at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 29th for a unique partnership between the Brain Research Foundation, Science is Sexy, Canine Therapy Corpsand the Anti-Cruelty Society. The focus of this fascinating lecture will examine the neuroscience of the bond between humans and dogs. Humans and dogs have been companions for an estimated 30,000 years, but science is only beginning to reveal why dogs bond with us so deeply, and why we bond with our dogs. 

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Real Estate Mingle

Join us for Real Estate Mingle, where 400+ industry guests will experience rare cars, liquors and cigars. The proceeds from this event will benefit the Brain Research Foundation which supports neuroscience research leading to an advanced understanding of brain function in children and adults. View the event flyer.

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Congratulations to our 2014 Scientific Innovations Award Winners!

Brain Research Foundation announces 2014 Scientific Innovations Awards (SIA) to fund groundbreaking work in Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Hurler Syndrome and autism. Producing important findings in a short timeframe is the goal of this special grant program. The 2014 winners of the SIA are:
Christopher I. Moore, Ph.D.
Department of Neuroscience, Brown University
W. Mark Saltzman, Ph.D.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yale University 
Anthony Zador, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Neuroscience, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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Rockin’ on the River 2014

Spend a Chicago summer evening riverside with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dancing.  Join the event on Facebook for updates and conversation!

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