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2012 Roundtable at Stanford

Gray Matters

Your brain, your life and brain science in the 21st century

What if you could use sadness to make you more creative, erase bad memories and wipe out stress, keep your brain fit into your 90s, and drastically reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and memory loss?

The plasticity and capability of the brain has never been better understood. New research is revealing compelling findings that will change the way we think, interact and plan throughout our lives. As longevity and at the same time mental health issues are on the rise, our ability to impact the brain is also increasing.

Yet these are the very early days, as some put it, of understanding “those three pounds of meat inside our heads.”  How can we apply the new brain science to our own lives, and how is neuroscience in the 21st century going to impact us all?

ABC news correspondent Juju Chang moderated a panel of distinguished thought leaders and scientists on October 6, 2012 in Maples Pavilion.

2012 Panelists

John Hennessy

John L. Hennessy is Stanford University's 10th president and inaugural holder of the Bing Presidential Professorship, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, former provost and former dean of the School of Engineering. During his presidency, a number of multidisciplinary research initiatives have been launched to address the great challenges of our time, and in recent years, there has been more focus on neuroscience as one of the most promising areas of possibility.


Juju Chang

Juju Chang (moderator) is an Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ABC News Nightline. She also reports regularly for Good Morning America and 20/20. She earned one of her two Gracie awards for a “20/20” story on gender equality in the sciences. In addition, Chang hosts “Moms Get Real,” a digital show for ABC News NOW aimed at cracking the façade of perfect mommyhood. Chang graduated with honors from Stanford University with a BA in political science and communication. While she was at Stanford, she was awarded the Edwin Cotrell Political Science Prize.


Carla Shatz

Carla Shatz is Sapp Family Provostial Professor of Biology and Neurobiology and director of Bio-X, Stanford's pioneering biosciences program. Her research at Stanford impacts not only the treatment of disorders such as autism and schizophrenia but also our understanding of how the nervous and immune systems interact. Shatz is past president of the Society for Neuroscience. Shatz received her BA in chemistry from Radcliffe College and PhD in neurobiology from Harvard Medical School.


Frank Longo

Dr. Frank Longo is the George E. and Lucy Becker Professor and is the Chair of the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences where he is focused on building and expanding programs in all areas of neurology. His research group has been focused on the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. Dr. Longo received his MD in 1981 and PhD in neurosciences in 1983 from UC San Diego.


Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist who specializes in the post mortem investigation of the brain. In 1996 she experienced a massive stroke. It took Taylor eight years to completely recover all of her functions and thinking ability. In 2008, she gave the second most viewed TED Talk of all time and was also named one of TIME magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World." Her book, "My stroke of insight; A brain scientist's personal journey," became a best seller. Taylor received her BA in biology and physiological psychology as well as her PhD from Indiana University.


Bob Woodruff

Bob Woodruff joined ABC News in 1996 to cover major stories around the world, later becoming co-anchor of "ABC World News Tonight.” In 2006, while reporting in Iraq, a roadside bomb struck his vehicle and seriously injured Woodruff. Thirteen months later, he returned with his first on-air report, "To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports,” chronicling his traumatic brain injury, his painstaking recovery, and the plight of service members with similar injuries, which won him a Peabody award. Woodruff created The Bob Woodruff Foundation to help injured service members and their families. He has a BA from Colgate University and a JD from the University of Michigan.