POSTPONED: Expanding Minds - The Allen Institute Conference on Human Brain Evolution


The Allen Institute is pleased to host a reimagined, virtual Expanding Minds - The Allen Institute Conference on Human Brain Evolution on January 26, 2021. The symposium was previously scheduled for April 1-2, 2020 at the Allen Institute in Seattle, WA.

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The World Health Organization and the U.S. Government have declared the coronavirus a public health emergency. At the Allen Institute we are committed to the health and safety of all our employees and guests. As such, we are postponing next month’s Expanding Minds conference.  

We realize this may impact your travel plans and apologize for any inconvenience. Please contact with any questions or immediate concerns. We are highly enthusiastic about holding this meeting and will keep you apprised of a future date.

04/01/2020 to 04/02/2020

Allen Institute
615 Westlake Avenue N.
Seattle, WA 98109

Event Overview

Wednesday, April 1:

  • Registration & Breakfast (provided). 8:30-9:00am
  • Welcome Remarks, 9:00am
  • Opening keynote by Christof Koch, 9:10-10:10am
  • Morning talks, 10:10am-12:25pm
  • Networking lunch (provided), 12:25-2:05pm
  • Brainstorm session #1 - "Studying and using ancient DNA", chaired by David Reich, 1:00-2:00pm

Ancient DNA is a new reagent in the study of human evolution. In this brainstorming session, we will discuss the generation of ancient DNA datasets over geographical space and time, the application of ancient DNA datasets to biological and anthropological questions, strategies for the use of ancient DNA in ongoing studies, and future priorities for the use and dissemination of ancient DNA.

  • Afternoon talks, 2:05-3:45pm
  • Panel discussion - "What are uniquely human features?", chaired by Liran Carmel, 3:45-4:45pm
    • Patricia Churchland
    • Christof Koch
    • Fenna Krienen
    • Hongkui Zeng
    • Mike Greenberg
    • Erin Hecht
  • Poster session, 4:45-6:45pm
  • Social reception at Dockside at Dukes, 7:00-9:30pm

Thursday, April 2:

  • Registration & Breakfast (provided). 8:30-9:00am
  • Morning talks, 9:00am-12:15pm
  • Networking lunch (provided), 12:15-1:55pm
  • Brainstorm session #2 - "Technical gaps in human brain evolution studies", led by Chris Walsh, 12:50-1:50pm

Studying human brain evolution is a pursuit that requires multidisciplinary insights from biology, genetics, and the field. In this brainstorming session, we invite the community to discuss the future of research of human brain evolution, the major technical hurdles, and the seeding of new disciplines that would accelerate technical progress in this field.

  • Afternoon talks, 1:55-2:45pm
  • Panel discussion - "How should we study human brain evolution?", chaired by Mark Harnett, 2:45-4:05pm
    • Rebecca Hodge
    • Alex Pollen
    • Sarah Tishkoff
    • Phillip Gunz
    • Flora Vaccarino
  • Closing keynote by Patricia Churchland, 4:05-5:05pm
  • Brainstorm Session Themes and Summary Remarks, 5:05-5:15pm

view Agenda

Symposium Chairs

Christopher A. Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Chief, Division of Genetics and Genomics, Boston Children's Hospital
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Michael E. Greenberg, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Neurobiology
Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor
Harvard Medical School

David E. Reich, Ph.D.
Professor, Harvard Medical School
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Associate Member, Broad Institute