In 2016, during the first scientific gathering of its kind in the world, thought leaders in medical care and scientific research from across the U.S. and Nordic countries convened in Roanoke, Virginia, to explore the challenges and promise of applying personalized medicine to improve brain health.  

Now, after a follow-up meeting in Oslo, Norway in 2018, the trans-Atlantic lineup of neuroscientists and clinicians from major universities and health care systems will return to the U.S. with an increasing global distribution of speakers and attendees.

Called the Precision Neuroscience Conference, the biennial event will be hosted by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center from May 20–22, 2020.

Featured will be two world-renowned scientists, Carol Mason, a member of the National Academy of Sciences who uses neuroscientific techniques to recreate conditions that occur only during early brain development, and Jan Hoeijmakers, acclaimed for cloning the first human DNA repair gene to help curb medical conditions linked to cancer and aging.

Mason, principal investigator and chair of interschool planning at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute, has dedicated her career to understand how nerve cells in the eye extend into specific destinations in the back of the brain in just the right way to endow people with sight.

Hoeijmakers, principal investigator and international faculty at the University of Cologne, and professor of molecular genetics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, pioneered DNA repair dynamics in living cells and was among the first to discover a strong correlation between the accumulation of unrepaired DNA and accelerated aging.

Recently, his research has demonstrated how caloric restriction slows neurodegeneration and extends lifespan in mice with DNA-repair gene deficiencies.

“Mason and Hoeijmakers are pioneers in their respective fields who have contributed so much to the scientific field through meaningful translational brain research discoveries. We are excited about their participation in Precision Neuroscience this year, and invite fellow neuroscientists, physicians, students, and other professionals who deal with brain disorders to join us in Roanoke in May,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and vice president for health sciences at Virginia Tech.

Precision neuroscience takes into account that while there are general patterns in brain development and function across the lifespan, the individual nuances of genetics, epigenetics, lifestyle and social influences, and environmental factors impact everyone’s brains differently.

“This series of international conferences provides the opportunity for deeper exploration and discussions of precision-based approaches to preventions, diagnostics, and therapeutics for brain disorders,” said Friedlander.

Formerly known as the Virginia-Nordic Precision Neuroscience Conference, the gathering was last hosted by the University of Oslo, Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, and Oslo University Hospital in 2018.

This progressive partnership between Virginia and Nordic universities represents an international collaboration designed to enhance innovation, health, and commerce.

Registration for the 2020 Precision Neuroscience Conference is now open, and participants may submit a poster abstract before Feb. 3, 2020. For more information about the conference, visit

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