Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
Skip to main content
Brain Matter(s) Event venue

On 7 December 2019, the Howard Brain Sciences Foundation (HBSF) hosted the first annual Brain Matter(s) Event with over 100 guests from around the globe. The gala was an international affair that spoke to the unfortunate universality of neurodegenerative diseases. Guests ranged from friends and family of the foundation to scientists, investors, global security personnel, caregivers, professors, comedians, and poets, but over 50% of guests reported knowing someone with a neurodegenerative disease despite any cultural or social differences between attendees. The diversity of attendees reflected the HBSF’s multidisciplinary approach to neurological health, reuniting sub-disciplines and specialists to better tackle the complexity of the human brain.

Sponsors and collaborators included: Adobe, Algolook, aiberry, Benesch, Berkadia, Connecticut Behavioral Health Associates, Center for Advanced Defense Studies, COGNISCALE, Fargo Jet, Migraine.AI, MicroBrainBT, Loudoun County, VA Economic Development, ni2o, Pat Bonanno & Associates, P.C., Parent-bookMD, SLKone, Spectroscopy AI Technologies, Sutton Sachs Meyer, PLLC, and Wisam Reid. Keynote speakers included Hristina Nikolova, Professor Tipu Aziz (Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, Oxford University), who is working with HBSF to find effective treatments for those living with Parkinson's, and Professor John Stein (Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, Oxford University). The evening’s tech showcase included presentations from Sergey Kanareykin from ni2o, Ozcan Cikmaz from Migraine.AI, Sangit Rawlley from aiberry, and Jessica Mahoney from Parent-bookMD. A silent auction for attendees was also held, including one of a kind art pieces from Anastasia Semash, Vika Mala and Parvez Taj, homemade dinner with Newton Howard, and exclusive access to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Entertainment was provided by the Brooklyn Comedy Collective and Shannon Odell, Neuroscience Comedian.

The evening began with an address from Tanya Juarez (CEO of HBSF) in which she not only welcomed guests, but stressed the importance of Artificial Intelligence and global collaboration (as opposed to competition) in combating the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases. Tanya Juarez also described her first hand experience as a mental health provider for soldiers, both in combat zones and on home soil, as a major motivator or becoming involved in “something revolutionary.” I then began to collaborate with Tanya on how to translate our passion for mental health awareness into a source of major systemic change.

I am known for a wide range of accomplishments in computational neuroscience, but I spoke specifically on my change from private sector security work to neurohealth, stating “the enemy is not actually out there, the enemy is within.. the brain is plagued by so many [curable] things.” I also described the importance of early detection and targeted approaches to brain health as major motivators in my use of Artificial Intelligence and computation in designing the KIWI. The KIWI is a deep brain stimulation solution that utilizes machine learning to better customize brain stimulation to each patient.

Next, I introduced the audience to Hristina Nikolova. We met at a neurohealth event and Nikolova was inspired by my commitment to patients and promoting patient longevity. Nikolova had spent several years working as a patient advocate on behalf of her sister, often coming up against health professionals who saw no alternative than a few months for her sister to live. Having developed brain cancer, Hristina’s sister chose to extend her chemo cycles as long as her body could tolerate it, in the aim of simply spending more time with her family and enjoying the small daily pleasures of life. Nikolova fought for her sister’s access to three simple things HBSF hopes to grant patients: an improved quality of life, increased longevity, and the possibility of a cure.

Professors Aziz and Stein each described their work in neuroscience and emphasized the need for novel targeted approaches and applauded the HBSF for its commitment to innovation. While important and life changing for many patients, medication and surgery are imprecise and come with a range of unintended side effects. By researching and designing targeted clinical approaches we can improve patient quality of life while mitigating risk. Though our goal at HSBF is to entirely eradicate neurodegenerative disease, any improvement in quality of life is significant both for the patient and their support network. In the words of keynote speaker Hristina Nikolova, “even one more minute,” is significant for patients living with a neurodegenerative disease.

If you are interested in becoming involved with the HSBF please email Mishaelia Bushman or visit our ‘Donate’ page in support of future research.

Blog posts

Strengthening ties between Oxford and Tanzania

Professor Kokila Lakhoo, along with colleagues from the Oxford University Global Surgery Group, is developing paediatric surgery through a link in Tanzania. In this blog post, Professor Lakhoo reports on their latest trip, which was part of a continuous ongoing strengthening of ties between the Oxford team and Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania.

Inspiring the next generation of excellent teachers

Professor Ashok Handa was a recipient of a 2019 Lifetime Achievement prize at the annual Medical Sciences Division Teaching Excellence Awards. Here Professor Handa tells us more about the award and the ways in which he has been impacting or hoping to make an impact on his students' lives, as well as surgical teaching in Oxford.

Bullying and Harassment? Not on my watch!

No member of our staff deserves to go home at the end of a day feeling bullied and the responsibility rests with all of us to remain aware of our own impact on others and to be watchful of such behaviours around us. Susan Patchett, NDS Bullying and Harassment Advisor, talks about bullying in the workplace.

Christmas gifts which make a huge difference

NDS was delighted to participate in a Secret Santa Scheme for underprivileged children and young people. Executive Assistant Odette Dawkins writes about the scheme and why it was important for her to give something back to the community.

First Nobel Prize for Oxford Clinical School

Sir Peter Ratcliffe FRCP FRS was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, sharing it with Dr Gregg Semenza of Johns Hopkins University and Dr William Kaelin of the Dana-Farber Cancer Centre in Boston.