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Distinguished Seminar Series – Brian Dias
October 26, 2022, 2022
Understanding and breaking legacies of stress
Historical events have generated data indicating that stressors experienced by populations, affect not only the individuals directly exposed to them, but also descendants. My talk will shed light on the nature and mechanisms by which legacies of stress perpetuate across generations, and how we may begin to break them.
Brian Dias is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine and directs a research laboratory in the Developmental Neuroscience & Neurogenetics Program at The Saban Research Institute, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Dias’ research seeks to understand how mammalian neurobiology, physiology and reproductive biology is impacted by stress or trauma, and how parental legacies of stress or trauma influence offspring. Armed with this understanding, Dr. Dias and his team aim to inform therapeutic and policy interventions to ameliorate the effects of stress or trauma in both, ancestral and descendant populations. Toward this goal, Dr. Dias uses molecular, cellular, genetic, epigenetic, physiological, and behavioral approaches to investigate how the biology of an organism and its responsiveness to stress or trauma is influenced by micro- (genome, epigenome and hormones), and macro-environments (ancestral, in utero and post-natal experiences). Among other outlets, Dr. Dias’ work has been featured in Nature, on the BBC, and in a list of the 10 Most Important Discoveries of 2014 published by La Recherche Magazine. Most recently, he was quoted about the legacy of trauma (BBC), the neurobiology of family separation (BrainFacts), and gave a TEDx talk on Halting Legacies of Trauma. In 2017, Dr. Dias was awarded a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar Award (competitive awards given to exceptional early career investigators from around the world by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), and is currently a Fellow in CIFAR’s Child & Brain Development Program. In 2019, Dr. Dias was selected to be part of the Young Leader network at the Science & Technology in Society Forum in Kyoto, Japan (an invitation-only forum that includes world leaders and diplomats discussing how science and technology can address roadblocks to human progress). In addition to his research, Dr. Dias is interested in education and knowledge mobilization. This interest has seen Dr. Dias participate in Sci-Foo Camp at Google – an invitation-only ideas festival that is often described as a mini-Woodstock of ideas. Dr. Dias is a faculty member of the Emory Tibet Science Initiative, teaches Neuroscience to Tibetan Buddhist monastics, and participated on a panel discussing “Consciousness” with scholars that included the Dalai Lama. More information is available at his lab website.