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Black Tie International:
IES Brain Foundation's Fifth Anniversary Gala Dinner

Fellows Laud Mentors at IES Brain Foundation’s
 Fifth Anniversary Gala Dinner

    Photos by: Pavle Ancevski


Eric Simon, PhD (inspiration, distinguished neuroscientist and Scientfic Committee Chair)  with daughter Faye Simon Harac (Foundation President & Founder) along with distinguished neuroscientists: Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek 
Eric Simon, PhD (Inspiration, Distinguished Neuroscientist and Scientfic Committee Chair)  with Daughter Faye Simon-Harac (Foundation President & Founder) along with
Distinguished Neuroscientists: Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek 
(Honorary Board Member)
& Dr. George Koob .


Honoree Bruce McEwen, PhD with Founfer & President, Faye Harac

Honoree Bruce McEwen, PhD with
 Founder & President, Faye Simon-Harac


Carol Resiss PhD, IES Brain Research Foundation 2009

Carol Resiss PhD, IES Brain Research Foundation
2009 Teacher Recognition Recipient


Lorraine Cancro and Bob Nicolaides

Lorraine Cancro and Bob Nicolaides


2009 Student Fellow Jordan Maki with Boyfriend Marc Mezzacca

2009 Student Fellow Jordan Maki with Boyfriend Marc Mezzacca


Kenneth Bonnet PhD, Dr. Judy Gao, Daughter YoYo with

Kenneth Bonnet PhD, Dr. Judy Gao, Daughter YoYo with
 Faye Simon-Harac


Levon Capan MD, with Irene Simon (Foundation Namesake)

Levon Capan MD, with Irene Simon (Foundation Namesake)


Corporate Sponsor Alkermes, Inc.

Corporate Sponsor Alkermes, Inc.


It is one thing to have knowledgeable speakers at your event and completely another to find a genius who can engage as well as energize your audience by having them literally in rapture. Irene & Eric Simon Brain Research Foundation did honor a very extraordinary scientist, Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D. who served as keynote speaker at their 5th Anniversary Gala Dinner, The event began with a cocktail hour at 6:45 pm, during which, ‘Cash for Gold,” and a silent auction took place, up to the point when those
 in attendance took their seats in anticipation of the wealth of information they were about to receive from the various speakers,
as well as the honoree.

Opening the presentations was Faye Simon-Harac, the Foundation’s President & Founder. Faye introduced her mother Irene, who then introduced, Eric Simon, Ph.D, husband of over 60 years, the inspiration for this Foundation, as well as Scientific Committee Chairperson. Dr. Simon’s fifty years of outstanding research in neuroscience at NYU, have been crowned with huge success including discovering opiate receptors in the brain and coining the word ‘endorphin.’ 

Following Dr. Simon at the podium were faculty sponsors, Drs. Steven Siegel and Howard Weiner, each of whom spoke on the results of their part in this year’s Student Summer Fellowship Program. Dr. Siegel, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, works on schizophrenia. Dr. Howard Weiner sharied his research on TSC and non invasive surgery for pediatric epilepsy.

With the faculty sponsors lectures over, it was the student fellows turn to address the gathering. Ying Li  spoke about working on antidepressants in the lab of Dr. Rene Hen at Columbia University. She expressed how through this experience, she learned a lot of lab technique & skills and that it strengthened her “passion for neuroscience and clinically relevant research”  Joseph Oved, whose fellowship was with Dr. Weiner working on Epilepsy, declared that he is indebted to his teacher for the knowledge he acquired as a result of the fellowship grant he received from the IES Brain Research Foundation. The final student to speak, Jordan Maki spent the summer in the lab of Dr. Eric Klann at the Center for Neural Science at New York University. She thanked “the Foundation for giving young scholars like myself such a great opportunity.” She and Dr. Klann worked on genetic disorders that may be linked to autism. She ended with saying “the most important thing I learned this summer is that neuroscience isn’t about perfect results and pretty pictures. It’s about dedicated people in sterile rooms working towards a solution, however elusive it may be. “

The event program quoted a student unable to attend, David Foulad, who worked in a lab at UCLA with Dr. Maria Castro, where there were exciting results on a new treatment that will go to clinic trial this year, for the deadly brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme.

The IES Brain Research Foundation fellowship program has given 26 students the opportunity to study for a summer, with top specialists in neuroscience Many of the fellows are so inspired by this experience, that they have decided to go on for a PhD in neuroscience and some for an MD/PhD. Through fundraising events & donations, this Foundation managed to collect enough funds to make these fellowships a reality. The hope is that these bright, motivated students will add to the work of their remarkable mentors, leading to effective treatments & cures for devastating brain diseases.

 It was announced, that Dr. Judy Gao and husband Kenneth Bonnet, PhD (Foundation Board member & secretary) donated a fellowship for 2010 in memory of Dr. Gao’s father and mother (who died of Parkinson’s disease ) and Peter Kaufmann donated a fellowship for 2010 in memory of his wife Hanni (who died of Alzheimer’s Disease) . Quotes from fellows of previous years can be found on the website www.iesBrainResearch.org including students that got a chance to work in a lab at Harvard University or with Nobel Prize winners Dr. Greengard and Dr. Kandel at Columbia University.

Following the students, it was time for the honored guest to speak on “Stress, Aging and the Brain - the Good and the Not So Good”. Taking the podium, Dr. McEwen elaborated the ability of the brain
to re-grow cells after a trauma, injury or stress. As a neuroscientist and a neuro-endocrinologist, Dr McEwen focuses on stress effects on the brain, The brain is the master organ of stress, because it determines what is threatening or unexpected, therefore ‘stressful,’ and also because it regulates the hormonal and neural processes which help us adapt in the short run. However, the very same processes can cause problems when that stress is excessive.
Long term or excessive worry causes us to adopt behaviors, also a function of the brain, which can damage our health because of overeating, not sleeping well, smoking, isolation or lack of exercise. The brain is a target of stress and demonstrates the ability to adapt structurally and functionally to acute and chronic stress. Up to a point these adaptations are reversible and serve a useful purpose, but when the brain changes do not reverse themselves, there are consequences such as chronic anxiety, mood disorders and cognitive impairment. These effects accumulate with age. The hippocampus is a key structure involved in the formation of memories, and it is one of the first brain structures to show degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and is affected by chronic stress. The work of Bruce McEwen, PhD and his laboratory led to a realization that stress hormone effects are protective in the short run and potentially damaging in the long run. According to the guest scientist, exercise can have positive and protective effects. A 30-minute regimen of exercise a day can offer an enormous protective effect in the regeneration of brain cells. Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., is the co author of books Elizabeth Lasley for a lay audience, called The End of Stress as We Know it. 

 After the honoree concluded his discourse, everyone in the room raised their glass in a champagne toast by Dr. Ken Bonnet, to the Fifth Anniversary of the IES Brain Research Foundation, a non-profit run solely by the volunteer time of  Faye Simon Harac, with occasional help from a few intermittent volunteers.   A buffet dinner was served with background music by the Two of Clubs, and the Silent Auction bidding resumed until about 10 pm. Teacher recognition for motivating students in the field of neuroscience, was received by Carol Shoskes Reiss, PH.D.  The evening ended with the serving of coffee & dessert and more music by the Two of Clubs. There was much positive and enthusiastic feedback regarding this wonderful evening.

Written by Bob Nicolaides and edited by Lorraine Cancro, MSW and Faye Simon




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