The 18th Safar Symposium on May 19th and 20th held virtually for the first time, was a record-breaking event with over 360 registrants. In addition, attendees from 20 countries participated.

Ed Boyden, PhD

The program featured a spectacular and inspirational keynote 40th Peter and Eva Safar Lecture given by Ed Boyden, PhD, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute titled “Tools for analyzing and repairing the brain” that highlighted some of his groundbreaking work on expansion microscopy and other novel investigative tools.

The symposium also included outstanding sessions on Future Visions for Neuroprotection, Neuroanesthesia, and Neurorehabilitation, and on Challenges in Maintaining Simulation Excellence. An impressive group of local, national, and international speakers presented on their work in these two sessions. Of note, Drs. Joseph Liu, Usapan Surabenjawong, and Emanuela Keller were the first individuals from China, Thailand, and Switzerland, respectively, to speak at the Symposium.

Benjamin Zusman and Keri Janesko-Feldman

Two prestigious awards were also presented during the Symposium including the Nancy Caroline award, and the S. William Stezoski award, for trainee, and technician excellence, respectively. The winners of these awards were University of Pittsburgh Medical Student Benjamin Zusman, and Safar Center technician Keri Janesko-Feldman, respectively.

The symposium also featured 42 trainee presentations from investigators in five departments. This trainee competition produced seven award winners (shown below). Congratulations to all the award winners! We are grateful to all the speakers, moderators, judges, and program committee members for making this a highly successful event, and to Marci Provins, Wendy O’Donnell, Brandon McLaughlin, Linda Ryan, Christa Brown, and Sandra Hirsch, for their special contributions to the development of the program and production of the virtual Symposium.


Multi-Departmental Trainees’ Research Day Abstract Winners

Ruby Holland, medical student/predoctoral student (mentor: Sarah E. Ross, PhD) won the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine—Basic Science award for her abstract “Activation of kappa opioid receptor-expressing neurons in the ventral tegmental area attenuates opioid withdrawal.”

Andrea Ibarra, MD, postdoctoral fellow (mentors: Aman Mahajan, MD; Kimberly Howard-Quijano, MD and Arman Kilic, MD) won the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine—Clinical Science award for her abstract “The impact of socioeconomic status in patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs).”

Oluwasinmisola Opeyemi, BS, medical student/predoctoral student (mentor: Christopher Horvat, MD, MHA) won the Department of Critical Care Medicine award for her abstract “Is dexmedetomidine associated with decreased opioid requirement among critically ill children?”

Sofia Seppi, undergraduate student (mentor: Mioara Manole, MD) won the Department of Emergency Medicine award for her abstract “Development of novel 20 HETE formation inhibitors for neurotherapeutics.”

Sarah Svirsky, BA, medical student (mentor: C. Edward Dixon, PhD) won the Department of Neurological Surgery award for her abstract “Retinoic acid preliminary dose response study to examine hippocampal synaptic protein expression and cognitive function after TBI.”

Eleni Moschonas, BS, BA, medical student/predoctoral student (mentors: Anthony E. Kline, PhD and Corina O. Bondi, PhD) won the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation—Basic Science award for her abstract “Effects of positive allosteric modulation of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on sustained attention and cholinergic neurotransmission after experimental traumatic brain injury.”

Marina Levochkina, BS, medical student/predoctoral student (mentor: Amy K. Wagner, MD) won the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation—Clinical Science award for her abstract “Temporal dynamics of neutrophil-to-lymphocyte levels and infections after traumatic brain injury.”