Annual VKC Science Day scheduled for Nov. 30 in Vanderbilt’s Student Life Center

Science Day banner with colorful images of science

2023 Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Science Day will take place Thursday, Nov. 30, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Vanderbilt University Student Life Center. The half-day event will include lunch, a keynote talk, two poster sessions, and a Data Blitz, closing with a wine/cheese reception. (Advance registration is appreciated – click here to RSVP.)

2023 VKC Science Day Keynote Speaker: Audrey Thurm, Ph.D.
The VKC will welcome Audrey Thurm, Ph.D., director of the Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Phenotyping Service, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, as its 2023 VKC Science Day keynote speaker. Dr. Thurm will present her talk on “Updates on Behavioral Phenotyping of Rare Genetic Conditions Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders (GCAND).”

This lecture will discuss the concept of “developmental phenotyping,” behavioral phenotyping of genetic conditions associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. A brief history of behavioral phenotyping will be presented, with grounding in genetic conditions associated with intellectual disability. Current purposes and examples of phenotyping efforts will be presented, not just for understanding the natural history of the many genetic conditions associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, but also for providing external control data for clinical trials and helping with determining clinical outcome assessments for treatment studies.

Poster Sessions:
Research posters will be presented by undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research faculty, and research staff conducting research in labs or research programs of VKC members. Poster submittals are divided among three Science Day research themes: Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience, Clinical, Behavioral, Educational, & Intervention Research, and Systems Neuroscience.

During the abstract submittal process, presenters had the option to compete for Warren Lambert Memorial Awards. Faculty judges will assess the presenters’ posters and spoken presentations and score them based on scientific rigor and comprehensive knowledge of the topic.

Following Science Day, poster presenters are eligible for VKC travel award funding to present at a scientific or professional conference within the following year.

Data Blitz:
Following the poster sessions, six presenters with exceptional poster abstract submissions will present their research presentations at a lightning pace during a favorite event of Science Day, the Science Day Data Blitz. Presenters will include:

  • Zachary Williams (Clinical/Behavioral/Education/Intervention): “An overlooked mental health condition: First estimates of prevalence and clinical correlates of misophonia in cognitively able autistic adults”
  • Anne Byrd Mahoney (Clinical/Behavioral/Education/Intervention): “Child and Caregiver Perspectives on COVID-19 Experiences During Pediatric Cancer Treatment: A Mixed Methods Approach”
  • Hyeon-Seung Lee (Systems Neuroscience): “Novel Measures of Social Cognition Captures Improvement Following Virtual Reality Social Skills Training in Schizophrenia”
  • Jason Russell (Systems Neuroscience): “Assessing the Relationship between Central Cholinergic Integrity and Amyloid Accumulation in Individuals with Down Syndrome Using [18F]-FEOBV and [11C]-PiB PET: Preliminary Data”
  • Adriana Tienda (Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience): “Chronic developmental manganese exposure alters response to amphetamine and methylphenidate”
  • Xia Lei (Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience): “Activation Mechanisms for Context-Dependent Allosteric Modulation of the mGlu7 receptor”

Following the Data Blitz, Warren Lambert Memorial Awards will be given, and a wine and cheese reception will be held for attendees.

Check out updates for Science Day as they are made and register to attend by clicking here.

About the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center:
The mission of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development is to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families through research, service, training, dissemination, and educational advocacy.

The VKC supports basic/molecular, applied, and clinical research and training through its partnership with more than 300 faculty researchers, staff, and affiliate members working together across disciplines to create basic and clinical scientific discoveries, to translate research into best practices, and to train the next generation of researchers and practitioners. The ultimate goal is to make positive differences in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Learn more about the VKC at

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