From synapses to circuits and behaviour

Friday 21 and Saturday 22 August 2015

Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa, Palm Cove, QLD

Perhaps no other structure is more fundamental to our understanding of the brain than the synapse. In the central nervous system, excitatory synapses represent the primary source of information communication between neurons, whether for local interactions within circuits or for linking discrete regions of the brain. Within circuits inhibitory interneurons sculpt the activity and determine the output of these circuits. One of the most extraordinary properties of synapses is the ability to undergo activity-dependent changes in synaptic strength, providing the most compelling cellular model for learning and memory. Synapses also serve as the site of action for many commonly prescribed medications and synaptic disruption contributes to many neurological and psychiatric disorders. These include schizophrenia, autism, depression, substance abuse and addiction, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke and epilepsy. In some cases, synaptic dysfunction is causal in disease, whereas in other cases it represents the downstream sequelae of one or more underlying molecular defects. In either case, a fundamental understanding of the formation, structure, molecular organization, signaling function, and plasticity of synapses is essential to achieving progress in lessening the burden of human neurological disease and for predicting and improving mental health. In this satellite meeting we will cover recent advances in three areas; synaptic function, the role of microcircuits in behavior and finally neuropsychiatric/neurological diseases.


  • Roger Nicoll, University of California, San Francisco
  • Robert Malenka, is the Pritzker Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, director of the Pritzker Laboratory, and co-director of the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Morgan Sheng, Vice President, Neuroscience and Molecular Biology, Genentech
  • Anirvan Ghosh, Global Head/VP, Neuroscience Discovery, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd
  • Bernardo Sabatini, Alice and Rodman W. Moorhead III Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School
  • Rick Huganir, Director, Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Christian Luescher, Department of Basic Neuroscience, University of Geneva
  • Julie Kauer, Professor of Medical Science, Professor of Neuroscience, Brown University
  • David Bredt,  Global Head Discovery, Neuroscience Research Group, Johnson & Johnson
  • Juan Lerma, Profesor de Investigación CSIC, Director, Instituto Neurociencias de Alicante (CSIC-UMH)
  • Nancy Yuk-Yu Ip, The Morningside Professor of Life Science, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience Academician, The Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Gina Turrigiano, Professor of Biology, the Volen Center for Complex Systems and the Center for Behavioural Genomics at Brandeis University.
  • Cliff Abraham, Department of Psychology, Director, Brain Health Research Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand.
  • Jeffry Isaacson, Department of Neurosciences, UC San Diego, School of Medicine
  • Pankaj Sah, Deputy Director, Research, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland
  • Paul Martin, Professor of Experimental Ophthalmology, Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney Eye Hospital Campus
  • Geoff Goodhill, Computational, Systems and Developmental Neuroscience, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland
  • Stephen Williams, Synaptic Integration in neural networks, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland
  • Katherine Roche, Senior Investigator NINDS/NIH
  • Thomas Kuner, Professor of Functional Neuroanatomy Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology Heidelberg University


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Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa would like to offer Symposium delegates special discount rates on rooms. To book your rooms, click here and book directly with the venue. As the venue is about 30 minutes from Cairns Airport, the hotel also offers a shuttle service. This can be booked directly with the hotel using the accommodation booking form (click to download).

Conference organisers:

Pankaj Sah, Roger Nicoll and Katherine Roche

Further information:

For further information, contact Prof Pankaj Sah at or Sue Campbell at