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Welcome to the 2014 Neurodevelopment/Simpson-Ramsey Symposium!

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Key Dates

Friday, April 4, 2014 Abstract Deadline for Inclusion in Award Competition
Friday, April 11, 2014 Registration Deadline (without posters)
Thursday, April 17, 2014 Neurodevelopment/Simpson-Ramsey Symposium

General Information and Registration


The Neurodevelopment Symposium and Simpson-Ramsey Lectureship will be held in the Cudworth Building, at 1919 University Blvd between the Shelby Building and the Doubletree Hotel. The symposium will feature seminars from local and invited speakers and a poster session for anyone involved in basic or clinical research related to normal or disordered brain development or child health. The goal of this symposium is to bring together researchers throughout Central Alabama to discuss recent progress in the field of brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders and to provide a forum for anyone involved in research related to child mental and neurological development to interact with other researchers. You can register by clicking on the “Register Here” link below. 




For those of you coming from off-campus, please indicate on the registration form whether you will require a parking spot. Parking spots will be reserved for you, ONLY IF YOU HAVE INDICATED SO ON THE REGISTRATION FORM. If you indicate your need for parking on your registration form, we will contact you the week of the symposium with instructions for parking.    


The Cudworth Building is located at 1919 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35294-2080


Invited Speakers

We are privileged to be hosting five outstanding speakers at the symposium this year (three external and two internal).


Dr. Stephen A. Back, Oregon Health Sciences University

Dr. Greg Barsh, Hudson Alpha/Stanford University

Dr. Christopher Pittenger, Yale University

Dr. Leon Dure, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Donna Ferriero, University of California, San Francisco


8:45AM Light breakfast, on-site registration  

Opening remarks
Lori McMahon, PhD
Professor of Cell, Developmental, & Integrative Biology
Director, Comprehensive Neuroscience Center

Lori McMahon 0513


Introduction to the symposium
Rita Cowell, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurobiology



Stephen A. Back, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Neuroscience Section
Pape Family Pediatric Research Institute
"Brain injury in the premature infant: Unexpected mechanisms of dysmaturation, regeneration & repair" 


10:10AM First trainee presentation (chosen from abstracts)   
10:25AM Coffee/Snack Break  

Greg Barsh, M.D. Ph.D.
Investigator, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Professor, Dept. Genetics, Stanford University 
“Genomics of intellectual disability”



Christopher Pittenger, M.D. Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Depts. Psychiatry and Psychology
Yale University
“Histamine dysregulation as a rare cause of Tourette syndrome: studies in humans and mice”


12:00PM Poster session and lunch (free)  

History of Simpson-Ramsey Symposium,
introduction to afternoon speakers
Fred Biasini, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology



Second trainee presentation (chosen from abstracts) 



Leon Dure, M.D.
Professor, Dept. Neurology
“Tourette Syndrome –  clinical features and management”

Dr Leon Dure 


Third trainee presentation (chosen from abstracts) 


2:25PM Donna Ferriero, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Dept. Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco
“Imaging Selective Vulnerability in the Developing Brain”
3:15 Presentation of poster awards  
3:45PM Reception at J. Clyde  


Boxed lunches will be free for the first 150 registrants. You will be notified by email before the symposium if you do not make the “cutoff;” if you do not receive an email, there will be a lunch reserved for you. Please indicate on your registration form if you would like a vegetarian lunch and/or have any food allergies. If you register after the deadline, you will not be guaranteed a lunch, but can sign up on a waiting list when you sign in at the symposium. 

Abstract and Poster Submission Information

Two abstracts are required for this symposium – a scientific abstract and a lay abstract (to orient the non-scientific audience to your research). The abstracts should be less than 250 words in length. Submission of the abstracts is required using the online registration form BY FRIDAY APRIL 4th. By April 7th, three trainees (categories: basic, translational, clinical) will be chosen from the abstracts to give a 10 minute presentation. Each will receive a $100 award. All abstracts will be printed in an abstract book for distribution to participants. 

Poster - Maximum size of 4’ x 6’

Poster topics can include, but are not limited to 

  • basic brain development
  • studies of neurodevelopmental disorders (basic or clinical)
  • child health
  • education
  • issues of special needs children
  • clinical psychology
  • clinical trials
  • or any other discipline that relates to child mental and neurological health

Poster Awards

Three poster awards will be granted this year, with an award amount of $100 per person. These are separate from the speaker awards. Awards will be granted in three different areas: basic research, clinical research, and translational research. 

Posters will be judged based on: 

  • Rationale/purpose of the study (20 pts)
  • Use of scientific method (35 pts)
  • Clarity of presentation (35 pts)
  • Originality and creativity (10 pts)

Here are examples of awards in the different categories (these were granted at the 2010 Symposium).

 Basic research            

  •  “Histone methylation is dynamically regulated in the entorhinal cortex during consolidation of long-term memories.”

Basic research – translational       

  •  “Developing mouse models of autism.”

Clinical/applied research - translational        

  • "Influence of parental distracted driving on teens with and without ADHD."

Clinical/applied research        

  •  “Developing More Ways for Children to Share Their Perceptions of Parenting Behaviors.”
CME Credit

If you would like to receive CME credit for this event, please indicate this on the registration form.

The University of Alabama School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The University of Alabama School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 3.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Learning objectives:

After participating in this CME activity, participants should be able to

1) Review how specific periods in brain development are critical for establishment of adult circuitry
2) Review genetic approaches to understand the molecular contributors to intellectual disability
3) Review the key symptoms of Tourette Syndrome and the biological systems that are being used to identify molecular mechanisms of brain dysfunction
4) Review the recent approaches to evaluate vulnerability in the developing brain 


 We would like to enthusiastically thank the following departments and centers which made this event possible.

Contact Information

For questions about your registration, please contact Robin Burkett, If you have any questions specifically about the symposium, abstracts, or poster competition, please contact Rita Cowell, For any problems with the website, please contact Jamie White,  

History of the Simpson-Ramsey Lectureship

The Simpson-Ramsey Lectureship was established to honor the contributions of two men who devoted much of their lives to individuals and families with developmental disabilities.  Dr. John Simpson and Dr. Joseph Ramsey helped the Sparks Center make great strides in training professionals to care for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Dr. John Simpson dedicated his medical career to improving the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities.  He served as a staff physician at the Sparks Center from 1967 until his death in 1973.  While at the Center, he was known as a “people person” who never tired of serving children and families with disabilities.  An associate professor of pediatrics at UAB for 28 years, he was a member of the Jefferson County Medical Society and the Alabama State Medical Association.  Dr. Simpson was co-founder of the Charlanne School in Homewood, a residential school for children with cerebral palsy.

After being in private practice for 23 years, Dr. Joseph Ramsey joined the UAB Sparks Center in 1971 for a one-year-post-doctoral fellowship in developmental pediatrics.  After completing the fellowship, he was appointed Director of the Division of Medicine.  Increasing other pediatricians’ awareness of developmental disabilities was only one of his many contributions.  Dr. Ramsey was a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Jefferson County Medical Association, and President of the Jefferson County Pediatric Society.  He was also an associate professor of pediatrics in the UAB School of Medicine. 

Previous Distinguished Simpson-Ramsey Lecturers

1978 - Julius B. Richmond, MD 1989 - Marcel Kinsbourn, MD
1979 - Thomas E. Malone, PhD 1991 - Diana Slaughter-DeFoe, PhD
1980 - H. Carl Haywood, PhD 1993 - Wade F. Horn, PhD
1981 - Phyllis B. Acosta, DrPH 1996 - Jim Dearth, MD
1982 - Jean K. Elder, PhD 2002 - Reid Lyon, phD
1983 - Vince L. Hutchins, MD, MPH 2003 - Albert C. Hergenroeder, MD
1984 - Edwin W. Martin, Jr., PhD 2004 - William E. Pelham, Jr., PhD
1985 - Craig T. Ramey, PhD 2005 - Zolinda Stoneman, PhD
1986 - Marie Scott Brown, RN, PhD 2006 - Joseph Piven, Jr., MD
1987 - Paul Cassamassimo, DDS, MS 2007 - Stephen D. Cederbaum, MD
          Darryl C. DeVivo, MD
          Lane Rutledge, MD
1988 - Robert J. Haggerty, MD  

History of the Neurodevelopment Symposium

In 2010, Fred Biasini (Associate Professor, Department of Psychology) and Rita Cowell Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurobiology) decided to combine efforts and expand upon the Simpson-Ramsey Lectures to include lectures by scientists researching the neurobiology of neurodevelopment disorders. The initial symposium occurred on April 22nd, 2010, and featured lectures by external and internal speakers. The symposium attracted over 200 people from 22 different departments and has continued to be successful in subsequent years.

Previous Distinguished Simpson-Ramsey/Neurodevelopment Symposium Lecturers

2010    Alcino Silva, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Neurobiology, University of California at Los Angeles
    Peter Mundy, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of California-Davis
2011   John Rubenstein, M.D. Ph.D, Nina Ireland Distinguished Professor in Child Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco
    Eric Klann, Ph.D., Professor of Neural Science, New York University
    Eric Courchesne, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience, University of California San Diego
2012   Takao Hensch, Ph.D., Professor of Neurology, Harvard
    Pat Levitt, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Dept. Cell and Neurobiology, University of Southern California
    Jack Katz, Ph.D., Speech Pathologist, Auditory Processing Service
2013   Kevin Pelphrey, Ph.D., Harris Professor, Child Study Center, Dept. Psychology, Yale University
    Edwin Cook, M.D., Director, Center for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Professor of Psychiary, Univeristy of Illinois College of Medicine


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