In the news: WBUR talks with Broad scientists on “Brain Matters”

Veronica Meade-Kelly, June 20th, 2014 | Filed under
  • Steve Hyman, director of the Broad's Stanley Center for Psychiatric
    Photo by Maria Nemchuk, Broad Communications

Steve Hyman, director of the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, was recently featured in WBUR’s special series “Brain Matters.” The series, which will run through July 24, aims to report “from the front lines of neuroscience,” and is exploring issues and trends in neurological and psychiatric research.

Hyman’s interview with reporter Carey Goldberg, transcribed in full on the WBUR blog, details the challenges inherent in studying the brain and the technological advances that are making psychiatric research more feasible than it has been in the past.

“We’ve known about brain disease for a long time, but I think the interesting political fact of the world is how it got swept under the rug for so long,” Hyman says. “Maybe it was just the scientific difficulty [posed by studying the brain]. But I think there’s something else… there’s a stigma attached as if the disease represents some moral flaw.

“While it’s difficult to change ingrained attitudes, we had better be doing something about these diseases. And perhaps the emergence of our new technologies and understandings has made it seem more possible; perhaps the recognition that as the population ages, the burden on society will become unsupportable if we don’t make progress; perhaps by taking neurodevelopmental disorders out of the shadows, thanks to parent advocacy, we’ve increasingly recognized that we’ve hidden these problems away but they’ve been taking an enormous toll. Maybe somehow these have all come together. The interesting question scientifically is why now, and I think it’s new technologies and tools and [the new, collaborative] organization of science.”

[Quoted text first appeared on WBUR]

You can read Goldberg’s interview with Steve Hyman in its entirety in “5 Ways the Brain Stymies Scientists and 5 New Tools to Crack It,” on the WBUR website. Also featured in the “Brain Matters” series is Broad postdoctoral scholar and Simons Fellow Neville Sanjana, who works in the lab of Broad core member Feng Zhang. In “11 Young Neuroscientists Share Their Cutting-Edge Research,” Sanjana discusses “neurons in a dish” – a stem cell technology that’s enabling him to study mutations that may cause autism. Sanjana is also among the Broad scientists who contributed graphics to a separate “Brain Matters” post on brain images.

To learn more on psychiatric research at the Broad, visit the Stanley Center website.