BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter
Clinical Neuroscience Symposium: Cellular and Immunological Basis of Mood Disorders
AUTHOR: Vanessa Morris

On January 17th, 2020, McMaster's 3rd Annual Clinical Neuroscience Symposium was held at the West 5th Campus of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Hosted by the Kapczinski Lab and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, this event welcomed speakers and guests from the Lieber Institute of Brain Development, Pasteur Institute, and Bordeaux Neurocampus, as well as many speakers from our McMaster and St. Joe’s family.

The day began with a keynote from Dr. Ron McKay on the future of stem cell research in mental health. Dr. McKay is well known for his discovery of a new class of pluripotent stem cells. His earlier work examined how stem cells could provide a source of dopamine neurons, which could potentially be used to treat Parkinson’s disease. His more recent work has focused on how stem cell technologies can be used to address the intersection of genetic and developmental risk in brain and behavior disorders. 


Following Dr. McKay’s talk, the day continued with three panels. Each panel had three speakers who gave roughly half-hour talks each. The first panel focused on inflammation and depression and included work from Dr. Lucile Capuron, Dr. Muriel Darnaudery, and Dr. Gerard Eberl. Dr. Capuron and Dr. Darnaudery discussed how diet and nutrition have been implicated in neuroinflammation and mental health disorders. Dr. Eberl’s talk discussed how certain cells, such as lymphoid cells, can become dysregulated and lead to (or prolong) inflammatory diseases and dysregulations of the gut microbiome. 


Following a catered lunch, the second panel composed of Dr. Pierre-Marie Lledo, Dr. Benicio Frey, and Dr. Fernanda DeFelice facilitated a discussion on depression and cognition. Topics covered a wide range, including adult neurogenesis, systems neuroscience, molecular mechanisms ofAlzheimer’s disease, and the effect of cannabinoids on the CB1 receptors in the brain. 


The day wrapped up with clinical and cellular aspects of mood disorders as we heard from Dr. Zena Samaan, Dr. Karun Singh, and Dr. Bianca Wollenhaupt de Aguiar in the final panel discussion. Dr. Samaan discussed her work on mood disorder cohort studies, Dr. Singh shared his work on the use of stem cells to study neurological disorders and create new therapies, and Dr. Wollenhaupt de Aguiar shared her research aimed at uncovering the biochemical and neurobiological bases of psychiatric disorders.


All in all, it was a successful and inspiring day of talks and networking. The Kapczinski Lab organized a wonderful event and we look forward to future Clinical Neuroscience Symposia in years to come.