Facilitator and Panelist Biographies

Facilitator

Alan Weil, J.D., M.P.P., Health Affairs

Alan Weil, M.P.P., J.D., became the editor-in-chief of Health Affairs in 2014. For the previous decade he was the executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and policy organization. Previously, he directed the Urban Institute’s Assessing the New Federalism project, one of the largest privately funded social policy research projects ever undertaken in the United States; held a cabinet position as executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing; and was assistant general counsel in the Massachusetts Department of Medical Security. Mr. Weil is a frequent speaker on national and state health policy, Medicaid, federalism, and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He is the coeditor of two books, publishes regularly in peer-reviewed journals, has testified before Congress more than half-a-dozen times, and is called upon by major media outlets for his knowledge and analysis. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Behavioral and Social Science Intervention Development

Donald Edmondson, Ph.D., M.P.H., Columbia University Medical Center 

Donald Edmondson, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a tenured associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at the CUIMC. He has led a number of large, National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded observational studies among patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). These studies have documented the psychological and emotional consequences of cardiovascular events and how psychological and emotional reactions to CVD may influence behavioral and physiological mechanisms that increase secondary CVD risk in acute coronary syndrome and in people who have had a stroke. Dr. Edmondson is also the principal investigator of the Resource and Coordinating Center for the NIH Science of Behavior Change program, which works to bring basic, translational, and clinical scientists together to apply the experimental medicine approach to uncover and reliably influence mechanisms of human behavior change. He is also a cofounder of the Columbia Roybal Center for Fearless Behavior Change (led by Ian M. Kronish, M.D.), which supports early-phase development and testing of interventions that target fear-based mechanisms of behavioral CVD risk using the Science of Behavior Change approach. Dr. Edmondson has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles since 2007. He received the 2018 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contributions to Psychology for his theoretical and empirical contributions to health psychology, and he received the 2014 Neal Miller Young Investigator Award from the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research for his contributions to behavioral medicine. 

Eric L. Garland, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., University of Utah

Eric L. Garland, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., is the distinguished endowed chair in research, an associate dean for research, and a professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work. He is also the director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development and the associate director of integrative medicine for the Supportive Oncology and Survivorship Center at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Dr. Garland is the developer of an innovative, multimodal, mindfulness-based intervention founded on insights derived from cognitive, affective, and neurobiological science called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE). As a principal or coprincipal investigator, he has received nearly $50 million in research grants from a variety of prestigious entities, including NIH, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. He conducts translational research on biopsychosocial mechanisms implicated in stress and health, including randomized controlled trials of MORE as a treatment for prescription opioid misuse and chronic pain conditions. In recognition of his national expertise in mindfulness research, in 2019, Dr. Garland was appointed by NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., to the multidisciplinary working group of NIH HEAL (Helping To End Addiction Long-TermSM) Initiative. Dr. Garland served as past chair of the research working group of the national Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health. Dr. Garland has had more than 160 scientific articles and book chapters published in respected, peer-reviewed outlets, and he currently serves as associate editor for the journal Mindfulness. To complement his expertise in clinical research, Dr. Garland is a licensed psychotherapist with more than a decade of clinical experience working with persons suffering from addictive behaviors, mood disorders, traumatic stress, chronic pain, and psychosomatic conditions. He has provided mindfulness-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and clinical hypnosis for these patients across a wide range of integrative medicine and mental health settings.

Allison G. Harvey, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley 

Allison G. Harvey, Ph.D., is a professor and licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley. Her clinical training and Ph.D. were completed in Sydney, Australia. Dr. Harvey moved to the University of Oxford as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and then joined the Department of Experimental Psychology as faculty with a fellowship at St. Anne’s College. In 2004, she moved to the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Harvey is a treatment development researcher who conducts experimental and intervention studies focused on understanding and treating sleep and circadian problems, severe mental illness, and behavior change processes. More recently, she has expanded her focus to the science of dissemination and implementation. Dr. Harvey has had the honor of participating in the Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health hosted by the National Cancer Institute. She has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers and chapters and authored 3 books. Her team’s research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Harvey is a recipient of numerous awards, including awards from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. Dr. Harvey has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from Örebro University, Sweden, and she is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. This year she will receive a distinguished scientist award by the Sleep Research Society.

Cary Reid, M.D., Ph.D., NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Cary Reid, M.D., Ph.D., has practiced geriatric medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center since 2003. Dr. Reid completed his residency in medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and completed fellowships in both clinical epidemiology and geriatric medicine at Yale University. He has received many research awards over the years, including a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars award and a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research award. Dr. Reid’s work in New York City at the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life, which is an Edward R. Roybal Center that focuses on chronic pain and is funded by the National Institute on Aging, supports translational research on pain and aging.

Gloria Y. Yeh, M.D., M.P.H., Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 

Gloria Y. Yeh, M.D., M.P.H., is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a clinician-investigator in the Division of General Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is the director of clinical research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and director of the Harvard Medical School Research Fellowship in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Yeh’s research expertise is on clinical trials of mind and body exercise for chronic disease, including cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions.

Clinical Trials Methodology

Karl Kieburtz, M.D., M.P.H., Clintrex LLC

Karl Kieburtz, M.D., M.P.H., is a neurologist and clinical researcher. After an undergraduate degree in neuroscience at Amherst College, he completed medical school and a neurology residency at the University of Rochester and obtained an M.P.H. degree from the same institution. He was the initial Robert J. Joynt Professor in the Department of Neurology and is currently professor of neurology (part time) at the University of Rochester. He was the founding director of the Center of Health + Technology and served as the director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and senior associate dean for clinical research at the University of Rochester. He was director of the clinical coordinating center for the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative program sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and a scientific advisor to the foundation. He is a project director in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke–funded Udall Center for Parkinson Disease at Rochester. Dr. Kieburtz was the past chair of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Peripheral and Central Nervous System Advisory Committee and of the Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Scientific Evaluation Committee. He also chaired the Parkinson Study Group Executive Committee and was a member of the Huntington Study Group Executive Committee. He served as vice president of the American Neurological Association, was a member of the International Executive Committee of the Movement Disorder Society, served on the board of directors of the American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics, and was associate editor of the journals Neurology and Movement Disorders. He has been global principal investigator for more than 50 multicenter and multinational NIH-, industry-, and foundation-sponsored clinical trials, including the large, multicenter NIH Exploratory Trials in Parkinson’s Disease study. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014. He cofounded Clintrex in 2008, providing scientific and regulatory advisory services to companies developing central nervous system therapies, and continues to serve as president. He serves on the scientific advisory boards of large pharmaceutical companies as well as for emerging therapeutics and data technology companies.

Eric J. Lenze, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Eric J. Lenze, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He is a geriatric psychiatrist and clinical trialist with more than 20 years of experience studying pharmacologic and behavioral treatments in randomized controlled trials. He has embraced clinical trial innovations, including fully remote trials that use e-consent and incorporate mHealth techniques such as high-density measurement of patients via smartphones. Dr. Lenze has used this technique to repurpose the drug fluvoxamine for early treatment of COVID-19, and he is currently leading a confirmatory trial that is recruiting throughout the United States and Canada. Dr. Lenze has successfully led several trials that have generated an evidence base in two areas of geriatric psychiatry. The first area is pharmacologic management of treatment-resistant depression. Dr. Lenze directs the large clinical trial “Optimizing Outcomes of Treatment-Resistant Depression in Older Adults.” The second area is pharmacologic and psychological management of anxiety disorders. Other areas of Dr. Lenze’s clinical trial research include testing treatments to improve age-related cognitive decline, cognitive training with vortioxetine versus placebo, and improving functional outcomes among older adults undergoing postacute rehabilitation. Dr. Lenze has published approximately 280 articles and book chapters, including more than 200 peer-reviewed papers. As a principal or coprincipal investigator, he has received approximately $51 million in funding from the Federal government and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. He has mentored 40 individuals, ranging from college undergraduates to junior and midcareer faculty.

Inbal Nahum-Shani, Ph.D., University of Michigan

Inbal Nahum-Shani, Ph.D., is a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research and a founding member of the Data-Science for Dynamic Decision Making Lab (D3 Lab) at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on conceptual and methodological issues pertaining to the construction of effective adaptive interventions, a treatment design in which ongoing information from the person is used to individualize the type, dose, and modality of support or treatment, and to just-in-time adaptive interventions, a special form of adaptive intervention in which mobile devices are used to provide support in a timely and ecological manner. Dr. Nahum-Shani collaborates with multiple scientific teams on the development of technology-based interventions that deliver support in real time, including interventions for engaging individuals in self-monitoring behaviors, emotion-regulation exercises, and mental health treatments. Dr. Nahum-Shani provides leadership for three federally funded research projects to inform the development of adaptive interventions and just-in-time adaptive interventions targeting substance use (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse), obesity (funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), and smoking (funded by the National Cancer Institute). 

Sheri L. Robb, Ph.D., M.T.-B.C., Indiana University

Sheri L. Robb, Ph.D., M.T.-B.C., is a professor at the Indiana University (IU) School of Nursing with international recognition for her expertise in pediatric music therapy and behavioral intervention research. She is a member of the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and director for the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) KL2 Young Investigator Program, and she serves on the Sound Health Network leadership team. Dr. Robb is a board-certified music therapist with degrees in music therapy and early childhood special education. She completed an R25 postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral oncology and cancer control at IU, followed by a KL2 training award in clinical and translational research from the Indiana CTSI. Dr. Robb’s research program focuses on development and testing of music interventions to manage distress and improve positive health outcomes in children and adolescents with cancer and their caregivers. Most recently, her team has begun incorporation of biomarkers to understand more fully how active music interventions work to mitigate cancer-related stress and their potential to improve immune function. Dr. Robb is an established investigator with 15 years of continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Cancer Institute, and Children’s Oncology Group. She also led publication of Reporting Guidelines for Music-Based Interventions to address calls for more transparent and accurate reporting in music intervention research.

Jeff D. Williamson, M.D., Wake Forest School of Medicine

Jeff D. Williamson, M.D., is professor of internal medicine and epidemiology, and chief, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, at Wake Forest School of Medicine. He is an internationally known geriatrician and clinical trialist. He also serves as director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation. He is coleader of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and clinical core leader for the Wake Forest Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. Dr. Williamson received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and a master’s degree in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. He completed a fellowship in geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Williamson’s primary research interests are in understanding relationships between chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes and maintaining brain health and physical function in aging adults, the prevention of aging-related loss of independence, and developing research methods for including elderly persons in clinical trials.

Music Therapy/Music Medicine

Melita Belgrave, Ph.D., M.M., Arizona State University

Melita Belgrave, Ph.D., M.M., received her bachelor’s degree in music therapy from Michigan State University. She also earned her master’s degree in music therapy, a certification in aging studies, and a doctorate in music education with an emphasis in music therapy at Florida State University. Dr. Belgrave has worked as a music therapist in special education, mental health, rehabilitation, hospice, geriatric, and intergenerational settings throughout Texas, Florida, Kansas, and Missouri. Her research interests are music therapy with older adults and intergenerational programming. She has presented at regional, national, and international conferences, and her research has been published in national and international journals including the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, Frontiers in Medicine, and Journal of Music Teacher Education. She coauthored the text Music Therapy and Geriatric Populations: A Handbook for Practicing Music Therapists. Her current service includes working as the chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the American Music Therapy Association. Additionally, Dr. Belgrave serves as a member of the editorial board for Music Therapy Perspectives and was the 2016–2018 chair of the International Seminar of the Commission on Special Music Education and Music Therapy. Prior to her appointment at Arizona State University (ASU), Dr. Belgrave taught in the music therapy program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City as an assistant and associate professor. At ASU, she teaches undergraduate and graduate music therapy courses, serves as the advisor for the music therapy student organization, and has been appointed as the administrator of the Arizona State University Music Therapy Clinic. Dr. Belgrave has also been appointed as a research affiliate at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and conducts creative aging music groups in the community. In 2018 she was recognized by the Black Music Therapy Network with the annual service award in recognition for her exemplary commitment to advanced knowledge and practice in the field of music therapy. Additionally, Dr. Belgrave has authored a chapter in and coedited the text for Music Therapy in a Multicultural Context: A Handbook for Music Therapy Students and Professionals.

Joke Bradt, Ph.D., M.T.-B.C., Drexel University

Joke Bradt, Ph.D., M.T.-B.C., is professor and program director of the Ph.D. in Creative Arts Therapies program at Drexel University and a board-certified music therapist. Her federally funded research is focused on the use of music therapy for chronic pain and symptom management. She currently is conducting two NIH-funded clinical trials: a multisite trial on music therapy for chronic pain management in people with advanced cancer and a study examining the impact of music therapy on opioid tapering in cancer survivors with chronic pain. As a research team member of Creative Forces: National Endowment for the Arts Military Healing Arts Network, she has investigated the impact of music therapy on clinical outcomes in service members with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other psychological health concerns. She is the lead author of several Cochrane systematic reviews on music interventions with medical patients, and she is editor-in-chief of the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy.

Elizabeth L. Stegemöller, Ph.D., M.T.-B.C., Iowa State University 

Elizabeth L. Stegemöller, Ph.D., M.T.-B.C., is an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Iowa State University. She is also the director of the interdepartmental Neuroscience Graduate Program. As a music therapist, Dr. Stegemöller has witnessed several intriguing experiences in which patients with neurological disorders have overcome debilitating conditions through music. These experiences have motivated her research goals. Dr. Stegemöller earned her bachelor’s degrees in music therapy and biology with a minor in chemistry from the University of Missouri–Kansas City in 2001. After receiving her degrees, she worked as a clinical music therapist before returning to graduate school, earning her doctorate in neuroscience at Northwestern University in 2010. Dr. Stegemöller completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurology and the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida. She joined Iowa State University in 2013. Dr. Stegemöller’s main research focus is to determine how music and music therapy facilitate movement and modulate associated brain activity in persons with Parkinson’s disease. She currently has multiple projects examining the effects of music or singing on swallowing, stress and inflammation, repetitive movements, and associated neurophysiology in persons with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Stegemöller also has contributed to more than 40 publications in her early career. Along with her research, Dr. Stegemöller offers several outreach programs for persons with Parkinson’s disease, including weekly singing, dance, yoga, and boxing groups, as well as yearly events, such as the Parkinson’s Disease Singing Festival and a Dancing With the Students spring show. Dr. Stegemöller is very passionate about her work and hopes that through her research and outreach efforts, she can contribute to the development of new and innovative therapies that demonstrate the effectiveness of music therapy in the treatment and care of persons with Parkinson’s disease.

Michael H. Thaut, Ph.D., University of Toronto

Michael H. Thaut, Ph.D., is currently a professor of music at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto. He also has cross-appointments in rehabilitation science and neuroscience. He also holds appointments as collaborator scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Hospital Neuroimaging Division and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. He is director of the university’s Music and Health Science Research Center and Music and Health Sciences graduate programs. His appointment is endowed by a Canada Research Chair Tier 1 award from the federal government of Canada. Dr. Thaut received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in music from Michigan State University, with a cognate minor in movement science. He holds a special diploma in music from the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria and a German Diplom in Psychology/Education from the University of Muenster. Prior to his appointment at the University of Toronto, he was a professor of music and professor of neuroscience as well as director of the School of the Arts at Colorado State University. He has held many visiting positions internationally including at the University of Michigan Department of Movement Science, Düsseldorf University Medical School, National Institute for Neuroscience Research IRCCS Santa Lucia/Rome, Heidelberg University of Applied Sciences, and Kurashiki Sakuyo Music University in Japan. Dr. Thaut is an international leader in the basic and clinical neuroscience of music and has internationally recognized research in relation to the applications of auditory neuroscience, specifically for music and rhythm, to brain rehabilitation. He has more than 250 scientific publications and is the coeditor of the Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology and senior editor of the Oxford Handbook of Music and Brain and the Oxford Handbook of Neurologic Music Therapy, which was second in the annual British Medical Association book award in the category “Best New Book in Neurology 2015.” He is president emeritus of the International Society for Clinical Neuromusicology, vice president of the International Society for Music and Medicine, vice chair for Special Study Sections at the World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation, and an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, United Kingdom. His research team, in collaboration with medical science and clinician groups worldwide, developed the field of neurological music therapy, an evidence-based system of music-based interventions applied to neurorehabilitation practiced by certified clinicians in more than 50 countries and endorsed by the World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation. As a former professional violinist in the classical and folk genres, Dr. Thaut has recorded several albums and has toured throughout Europe extensively. 

Neuroscience

Mounya Elhilali, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Mounya Elhilali, Ph.D., is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Johns Hopkins University with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2004. She directs the Laboratory for Computational Audio Perception and is affiliated with the Center for Speech and Language Processing and the Center for Hearing and Balance. Her research examines sound processing by humans and machines in noisy soundscapes and investigates reverse engineering intelligent processing of sounds by brain networks with applications to speech and audio technologies and medical systems. She was named the Charles Renn Faculty Scholar in 2015, received a Johns Hopkins University Catalyst Award in 2017, and was recognized as an outstanding woman innovator in 2020. Dr. Elhilali is a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator award.

John R. Iversen, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

John R. Iversen, Ph.D., is a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego who studies the interactions between music and the brain. He directs the Studying the Influence Music Practice Has on Neurodevelopment in Youth (SIMPHONY) project and codirects the Early Academic Readiness and Learning Intervention (EARLI) project, part of a National Endowment for the Arts Research Laboratory. SIMPHONY and EARLI are longitudinal studies of the impact of music training on children’s brain and cognitive development. They place the impact of music into a broader neurodevelopmental framework, in which researchers are charting the “growth curves” of the developing brain to understand how brain development shapes the emerging skills of each child. Dr. Iversen also studies fundamental brain mechanisms underlying human perception and production of sound and rhythm, mapping what they tell us about how the motor system may influence what we hear, as well as studies of biomarkers and brain mechanisms of navigation and complex skill learning. After undergraduate studies in physics at Harvard University, Dr. Iversen received graduate degrees in philosophy of science and in speech at the University of Cambridge and received a Ph.D. in speech and hearing science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently an associate research scientist in the Institute for Neural Computation and an associate director of the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego.

Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D., McGill University

Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychology at McGill University. He earned his B.A. in cognitive science from Stanford University and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in cognitive psychology with a minor in music technology from the University of Oregon. He completed his postdoctoral training in neuroimaging and perception at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California. He taught at Stanford University in the Departments of Computer Science, Psychology, History of Science, and Music and has been a visiting professor at Dartmouth College and the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently the founding dean of arts and humanities at the Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute, San Francisco, California, and the James McGill Professor Emeritus of psychology, neuroscience, and music at McGill University. Dr. Levitin is an award-winning neuroscientist, musician, and best-selling author. His research encompasses music, the brain, health, productivity, and creativity. Dr. Levitin has published more than 300 articles in periodicals such as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal. His research has been featured more than 1,800 times in the popular press, including 17 articles in The New York Times and in The London Times, Scientific American, and Rolling Stone. He is a frequent guest on National Public Radio and on CBC/Radio-Canada and has appeared on Good Morning America, Today, CBS This Morning, and CNN. His TED Talk is among the most popular of all time. He is the author of four New York Times bestselling books: This Is Your Brain on Music, The World in Six Songs, The Organized Mind, and Successful Aging, as well as the international bestseller A Field Guide to Lies. Dr. Levitin is a popular public speaker and has given presentations to parliament in London, the U.S. Congress, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. He has consulted for a number of companies and organizations, including Apple, Booz Allen Hamilton, Microsoft, the U.S. Navy, Sonos, Philips, Sony, Fender, and AT&T. As a musician (tenor saxophone, guitar, vocals, and bass), he has performed with Mel Tormé, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash, Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Victor Wooten, and Tom Scott. Dr. Levitin has produced and consulted on albums by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and Joni Mitchell, he has consulted on the films Good Will Hunting and Pulp Fiction, and he has been awarded 17 gold and platinum records. 

Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., is the Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where he serves as dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs and director of the Friedman Brain Institute. He received his B.A., Ph.D., M.D., and psychiatry residency training from Yale University. He served on the Yale faculty as the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology and as the director of the Division of Molecular Psychiatry from 1987 to 2000. He moved to Dallas in 2000 and was the Lou and Ellen McGinley Distinguished Professor and Chair in Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center until moving to New York in 2008. Dr. Nestler is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (1998) and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005). He is a past president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2011) and the Society for Neuroscience (2017). He is a founder and the chair of the scientific advisory board for PsychoGenics, and he is a member of the board of directors for Berg, a biotechnology company. Dr. Nestler also chairs the scientific advisory boards for One Mind, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation’s Tau Consortium. The author of approximately 700 publications and 5 books, Dr. Nestler studies the molecular basis of drug addiction and depression. 

Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D., McGill University

Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D., is a cognitive neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and carried out his doctoral studies at Brown University with the late Peter Eimas, followed by postdoctoral work with Brenda Milner. He currently holds a Canada research chair at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University. In 2006 he became the founding codirector, with Isabelle Peretz, of the international laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research. His work has been recognized with several awards, including the Ipsen Foundation prize in neuronal plasticity in 2011, the Knowles prize in hearing research from Northwestern University in 2013, election to the Royal Society of Canada in 2017, and the de Carvalho-Heineken prize in cognitive science from the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020. He is also a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Dr. Zatorre’s lab studies the neural substrates of auditory cognition, with special emphasis on two complex and characteristically human abilities: speech and music. With his collaborators and students, Dr. Zatorre has published more than 300 scientific papers on topics including pitch and melody perception, auditory imagery, music production, brain plasticity in musicians, and the role of the dopaminergic reward circuitry in mediating musical pleasure. His research spans all aspects of human auditory processing, from the functional and anatomical properties of auditory cortex and its connectivity to how these properties differ between the hemispheres, and how they change with training or sensory loss. Examples of recent research projects include: using graph theory models to understand anatomical connectivity of the auditory cortex from magnetic resonance diffusion data; using magnetoencephalopathy to track the cortical and subcortical responses to periodicity; applying machine learning algorithms to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate reward-related brain activity to music; demonstrating hemispheric asymmetries in fMRI activity to speech and melody in relation to spectrotemporal modulations; and application of brain stimulation paradigms to enhance auditory working memory and to modify hedonic responses to music. Dr. Zatorre’s activities are funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Patient Advocacy and Arts Organizations

Jamie Eberling, Ph.D., Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Jamie Eberling, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist with background in neuroimaging, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, gene therapy, and translational research. Dr. Eberling received her B.S. and Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She oversees the imaging portfolio with a particular emphasis on positron emission tomography (PET) tracer development. She is responsible for building and advancing the alpha-synuclein tracer development program, one of the highest research priorities for the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). Prior to joining MJFF, Dr. Eberling was a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she used PET imaging to evaluate the efficacy of gene therapy approaches for Parkinson’s disease.

Barbara A. Else, M.P.A., M.T.-B.C., American Music Therapy Association 

Barbara A. Else, M.P.A., M.T.-B.C., is a senior research and policy advisor with the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). She coordinates AMTA’s research initiatives and is the business manager for the AMTA’s two peer-reviewed journals, the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives. She also serves as managing editor for the Journal of Music Therapy. Ms. Else practiced as a hospital-based music therapist and has been active as a researcher in health policy and economics. She maintains a part-time music therapy practice in community mental health. She provides training and presentations on the use of music therapy to mitigate the effects of trauma. Ms. Else was the recipient of a postgraduate fellowship and later served as a project officer with the U.S. Public Health Service at the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (later renamed the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) for medical effectiveness research, policy analysis, and grants management. Her publication credits focus on health policy, research methods, trauma and music therapy, and health economics. Ms. Else volunteers with the American Red Cross in disaster services/mental health and training. She serves in an advisory role for disaster response for the AMTA and the World Federation of Music Therapy. As a musician, Ms. Else is active (in nonpandemic times) in the jazz scene and is a studio recording artist specializing in concert and ethnic flutes. 

Ramona Hicks, Ph.D., One Mind

Ramona Hicks, Ph.D., is the director of science and technology at One Mind, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the acceleration and implementation of research to promote brain health, and an affiliate professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington. In addition to managing the One Mind science and research portfolio, she participates in numerous projects to advance open science, digital health, learning health care, and early detection and intervention for youth mental health. Prior to joining One Mind, she held faculty appointments at the University of Kentucky and the University of Washington, where she studied the effects of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions on hippocampal function and recovery following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Dr. Hicks also served as a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, where she managed the TBI research portfolio and led numerous interagency and international research initiatives.

Sunil Iyengar, National Endowment for the Arts

Sunil Iyengar is director of the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Under his leadership, the office has produced dozens of research reports, hosted periodic research events and webinars, led strategic plan development for the agency, and established research and data partnerships with the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. His office also conducts program evaluations and performance measurement for the Arts Endowment. Working with his team, Mr. Iyengar has created and pursued a long-term research agenda (based partly on an arts “system map” his office helped to design), founded a national data repository for the arts, and launched two awards programs for arts researchers, including the NEA Research Labs initiative. He chairs a Federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development. For nearly a decade, he has contributed a monthly research post (“Taking Note”) to the agency’s official blog. Mr. Iyengar and his team have collaborated with organizations such as the Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Sciences, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and NIH to explore the arts in relation to such topics as health and well-being, economic development, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and medicine. His office provides research consultative support to Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. Most recently, he has led a research funding partnership with NIH as part of Sound Health. His office supports the Sound Health Network. Prior to joining the agency, Mr. Iyengar worked as a reporter, managing editor, and senior editor for news publications covering the biomedical research, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries. He writes poems, book reviews, and literary essays. Mr. Iyengar has a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan.

Anne Leonard, M.P.H., B.S.N., R.N., American Stroke Association/American Heart Association 

Anne Leonard, M.P.H., B.S.N., R.N., is a senior science and medicine advisor for the American Stroke Association (ASA) division of the American Heart Association (AHA). She is the lead for the Stroke Council, Council on Hypertension, and Council on Clinical Cardiology and staffs several science subcommittees within those councils. She has worked in stroke science since 1987, when she worked for the Department of Neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio on the Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation study, which was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. During her 20-year tenure with this department, she also coordinated other studies on acute stroke treatment, primary/secondary prevention of stroke, and novel early-phase neuroprotective agents. Her work on these research studies included the roles of study coordinator and subinvestigator. She also was involved in quality improvement projects at affiliated hospitals. She worked 5 years of her career with the Department of Neurosurgery, coordinating and executing clinical research trials on intracerebral hemorrhage, including two surgical intervention studies (the Minimally Invasive Surgery and rtPA for Intracerebral Hemorrhage Evacuation study and the Clinical Trial on Treatment of Intraventricular Hemorrhage), as well as an epidemiology study (Ethnic/Racial Variations of Intracerebral Hemorrhage). She served as the interim stroke coordinator in the five-hospital system for a year and consulted with this system thereafter. During those years, she taught residents, medical students, nurses, paramedics, and allied health professionals about stroke. Before leaving the university, she consulted with the AHA/ASA about its stroke portfolio. She rejoined the AHA/ASA in 2013. 

Susan Magsamen, M.A.S., Johns Hopkins University

Susan Magsamen, M.A.S., received a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from Towson University in 1982 and a master’s degree in advanced study from Johns Hopkins University in 1986. She is the founder and executive director of the International Arts + Mind (IAM) Lab, a pioneering neuroaesthetics initiative from the Pedersen Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her body of work lies at the intersection of brain sciences and the arts—and how our unique response to aesthetic experiences can amplify human potential. Ms. Magsamen is the author of the Impact Thinking model, an evidence-based research approach to accelerate how we use the arts to solve problems in health, well-being, and learning. In addition to her role at the IAM Lab, she also serves as codirector of the NeuroArts Blueprint initiative in partnership with the Aspen Institute. Prior to founding the IAM Lab, Ms. Magsamen worked in both the private and public sectors, developing social impact programs and products addressing all stages of life—from early childhood to aging adulthood. She created Curiosityville, an online personalized learning world, acquired by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2014, and Curiosity Kits, a hands-on multisensory company, acquired by Torstar in 1995. Ms. Magsamen, an award-winning author for children and families, has published seven books, including The Classic Treasury of Childhood Wonder, The 10 Best of Everything Families, and Family Stories, a five-part interactive series that included Nighty Night, Tooth Fairy Times, My Two Homes, Family Night, and Making Spirits Bright. She is a fellow at the Royal Society of the Arts and a strategic advisor to several innovative organizations and initiatives, including the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, the American Psychological Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Brain Futures, Learning Landscapes, and Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America.

Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association 

Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D., is the vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association. In this role, she oversees association initiatives that accelerate innovative Alzheimer’s research and provide opportunities for the global dementia community to connect and collaborate. Dr. Snyder is responsible for the progress the association has made in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research funding. She leads the association’s International Research Grant Program, the vehicle through which the association funds promising investigations that advance understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and moves the field toward solutions for the global Alzheimer’s disease crisis. As the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s disease research, the association is currently investing $167 million in more than 500 active, best-of-field projects in 27 countries. As part of this effort, Dr. Snyder is instrumental in advancing grant programs that explore sex- and gender-based disease vulnerability. These grant programs contributed to the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative, one of the only focused funding programs in this area. The programs also fund studies to uncover how biological and genetic factors shape disease development and progression in women as compared to men, a factor that may influence diagnostic and treatment options as research moves closer to precision medicine. To increase knowledge about prevention and risk reduction, Dr. Snyder serves on the executive team for the U.S. Study To Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention To Reduce Risk. In addition, she oversees the development and management of the Alzheimer’s Association’s leading clinical neurology journal, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and its companion open-access journals, which help bridge the knowledge gaps across a wide range of dementia research disciplines. Dr. Snyder sits on the programmatic review committee for the U.S. Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs for Alzheimer’s disease. She has been a peer reviewer for NIH, the Polish government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and California’s Alzheimer’s disease funding program. An expert in the field, Dr. Snyder has been featured in numerous television interviews, including the Dr. Oz Show, and in news articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Crain’s Chicago Business “40 Under 40,” and The Wall Street Journal. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in biology and religious studies from the University of Virginia.