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Neuroscience and Society Series: Neuroenhancement

1200 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC

Neuroenhancement: Building an Improved Human Body and Mind

Human enhancement is the notion that science and technology can be used to restore or expand cognitive and physical human capacities. It has received considerable public attention in recent years with the return of injured soldiers and the demand for prosthetic devices and with controversies surrounding the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports. This program focused on a diverse set of enhancements for mind and body, examining the science of what can be done, what might be done in the near and far future, and what should be done. The remarkable opportunities created by scientific advancements are accompanied by ethical and policy challenges that demand a broader public conversation.

Speaker Biographies

Daofen Chen, Ph.D. is a Program Director in Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, where he is responsible for research grant portfolios and programs in motor systems and functions, focusing on basic, translational and clinical sciences of sensorimotor control, neurorehabilitation, and related neurotechnologies.  Dr. Chen began his graduate training in neurophysiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, studied subsequently at University of Fribourg as an IBRO fellow, and received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics at University of Washington. After completing his postdoctoral research fellowship and clinical training in movement/rehabilitation science at the Northwestern University Medical School and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Dr. Chen had served on the faculty at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where much his research was focused on the cortical and spinal mechanisms of motor control and neural circuit plasticity. Dr. Chen also has long been interested in bioethical issues related to neurotechnologies, particularly on cross-cultural issues in bioethics and the intersection between science and society.

Ramez Naam is a computer scientist and author. He's the H.G. Wells Award–winning author of More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement, a tour of the frontiers of bio-medicine and what coming advances could mean for the human condition. He's also the author of two near future science fiction thrillers, Nexus and Crux, about a technology that links minds and the struggle to control it. Ramez spent 13 years at Microsoft, where he led teams working on e-mail, Web browsing, Internet search, and artificial intelligence. His most recent nonfiction book, on accelerating innovation to overcome environmental and natural resource challenges, is The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet.  He lives in Seattle.

Joseph J. Pancrazio's Ph.D. training focused on the ion channel electrophysiology using the patch clamp technique at the University of Virginia. After postdoctoral training in pharmacology in the Department of Anesthesiology at UVa as a recipient of a National Research Service Award, he received a joint appointment in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Biomedical Engineering as an assistant professor of research at the UVa in 1991. In 1998, he joined the NRL as a Principal Investigator at the Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering, becoming the Head of Code 6920, the Laboratory of Biomolecular Dynamics, in 2002. At the NRL, Dr. Pancrazio led an extramurally supported project including biologists and engineers for the development and demonstration of a biosensor system based cultured neuronal networks for environmental threat detection. Dr. Pancrazio joined the Repair and Plasticity Cluster of NIH in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in January of 2004, where he served as the Program Director for neural engineering and the neural prosthesis program. In October 2009, he joined the faculty in the Volgenau School of Engineering as Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the new Bioengineering Program. In August 2011, he was appointed the founding chair of the Department of Bioengineering at Mason. His research interests center on neural interface technologies, biosensors, and neuropharmacological assay development. He has authored over 90 peer-reviewed publications, several book chapters and review papers, and holds two patents.

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