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Syracuse University, Dana Foundation team up for conversation about teen brain May 27 in Washington, D.C.

May 13, 2008

Rob Enslin
(315) 443 3403

Rob Enslin

The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University and The Dana Foundation are presenting a panel discussion on the teen brain as part of the successful "Speaking of Science" series on Tuesday, May 27, in Washington, D.C. William Safire '51, H'78, Dana chairman and New York Times columnist/author, will moderate the discussion, featuring expert panelists Jay N. Giedd, chief of brain imaging at the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health; Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry in The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and co-director of The Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center; and Stephen A. Maisto, professor of psychology in the Center for Health and Behavior at SU.

The invitation-only event, which will take place from 6-7:15 p.m. at The Dana Center, 900 15th St. A recorded Web stream will be availabe from The Dana Foundation website ( starting in June.

"Syracuse University is delighted to partner with William Safire and The Dana Foundation for what will be a lively and engaging conversation about the teen brain," says Arts and Sciences Dean Cathryn R. Newton. "Our distinguished panel will explore the development of the brain, from childhood to early adulthood; its link to major mental illnesses and teen suicide; and its impact on risky adolescent behavior and decision making."

Safire is a distinguished journalist, speechwriter, historian, novelist and lexicographer. He currently serves as chairman of The Dana Foundation, a nonprofit private foundation active in funding research in brain science, neuro-immunology, arts education and other areas. Safire was honored in 2006 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His most recent work is an updated and expanded version of "Safire's Political Dictionary" (Oxford University Press, 2008).

After attending SU, Safire worked on the first election campaign of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was a senior speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon. From 1972-2005, he wrote a political column on the op-ed pages of The New York Times. Safire continues to write a Sunday column, "On Language," which has appeared in The New York Times Magazine since 1979. He won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 1978 and served as a member of the Pulitzer's board for nine years.

Giedd is chief of the Unit on Brain Imaging in the Child Psychiatry Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His research focuses on the biological basis of cognitive, emotional and behavioral disorders. At the NIMH, Giedd's research team seeks to use cutting-edge technologies to explore the relationship among genes, brain and behavior in healthy development and in neuropsychiatric disorders of childhood onset. They are currently conducting longitudinal neuropsychological and brain imaging studies of healthy twins and singletons, as well as clinical groups with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, childhood-onset schizophrenia and other disorders. Over the past decade, the lab has acquired more than 3,000 MRI scans, creating the largest pediatric neuroimaging project of its kind.

Giedd's team also studies sexual dimorphism in the developing brain -- especially important in child psychiatry, where nearly all disorders have different ages of onsets, prevalence and symptomatology between boys and girls -- by exploring clinical populations with unusual levels of hormones (e.g., congenital adrenal hyperplasia and familial precocious puberty) or variations in sex chromosomes (e.g. Klinefelter's syndrome, XYY and XXYY). In addition to studying monozygotic and dizygotic twins, Giedd's lab is involved in the development and application of techniques to analyze brain images and collaborates with other imaging centers throughout the world to advance the image analysis field.

Jamison is professor of psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-director of The Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center. She is also an honorary professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and is the recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards, including a MacArthur Award.

Jamison is co-author of the standard medical text on manic-depressive illness, which was chosen in 1990 as the most outstanding book in biomedical sciences by the American Association of Publishers, and is author of "Exuberance: The Passion for Life" (Knopf, 2004), "Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide" (Knopf, 1999), "An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness" (Knopf, 1995) and "Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament" (Simon and Schuster, 1993).

She has written more than 100 scientific articles about mood disorders, suicide, creativity and lithium. Her memoir, "An Unquiet Mind," which chronicles her own experience with manic-depressive illness, was cited by several major publications as one of the best books of 1995. It was also on The New York Times bestseller list for five months and has been translated into 20 languages. "Night Falls Fast" was a national bestseller and selected by The New York Times as a Notable Book of 1999. "Exuberance: The Passion for Life" was selected by The Washington Post, The Seattle Times and The San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best books of 2004 and by Discover magazine as one of the best science books of the year.

Maisto is a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at SU. He also serves on the faculty of SU's Center for Health and Behavior, which promotes research of the social and behavioral aspects of health and encourages cross-college and community partnerships. In January, Maisto was appointed editor of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, a prestigious journal published by the American Psychological Association.

Maisto's research, writing and clinical practice encompasses the assessment and treatment of substance use disorders; mechanisms of risk perception and risk taking as they relate to substance use; HIV prevention intervention evaluation in psychiatry; and alcohol use and HIV-related sexual risk in young adults. He has published nearly 200 articles and book chapters and has authored or edited nine books.

More information about SU's College of Arts and Sciences, including the Nov. 7 dedication of its new Life Sciences Complex, is available at

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