2015 Loebel Lectures: Science is quietly, inexorably eroding many core assumptions underlying psychiatry

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2015 Loebel Lectures: Science is quietly, inexorably eroding many core assumptions underlying psychiatry

November 4, 2015 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

We are pleased to announce that the 2015 Loebel Lectures in Psychiatry and Philosophy will be delivered by Professor Steven E. Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as well as Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. From 2001 to 2011, he served as provost of Harvard University, the University’s chief academic officer. As provost, he had a special focus on developing collaborative scientific initiatives that span multiple disciplines and institutions. In that role he helped shape the Broad Institute and Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. From 1996 to 2001, he served as director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where he emphasized investment in neuroscience and emerging genetic technologies, as well as the establishment of DNA collections to facilitate genetic studies at large scale. He also initiated a series of large clinical trials with the goal of informing practice.

Hyman is president-elect of the Society for Neuroscience, editor of the Annual Review of Neuroscience, and was founding president of the International Neuroethics Society. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies where he serves on the Governing Council and Board of Health Science Policy, and chairs the Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders, which brings together industry, government, academia, and voluntary organizations. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

Hyman received his B.A. summa cum laude from Yale College, a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Cambridge, which he attended as a Mellon fellow, and an M.D.cum laude from Harvard Medical School.

All are welcome to attend these public lectures, however booking is required.  Please book your place for each lecture separately on our bookwhen site. Please note the venue requires us to issue tickets so please print out and bring your booking confirmation with you.


Lecture 2 of 3:  Science is quietly, inexorably eroding many core assumptions underlying psychiatry 


Time and date: 4 November 2015, 6-8pm.

Venue: Grove Auditorium, Magdalen College, Longwall Street, Oxford OX1 4AU

Booking: Please book online at bookwhen.com/uehiro and bring your booking confirmation to the event.  

i. A half-century of stasis in psychiatric therapeutics reflects the enormous scientific hurdles posed by psychiatric disorders.

ii. However, it also reveals the need for new ways of thinking and a more honest response to evidence.

iii. Psychiatry has yet to grasp the complexity that lies at the heart of human cognition and behavior as well as psychopathology.

a. There are few, if any, main effects in the genesis of psychopathology

i. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of genes, contribute small incremental to the pathogenesis of mental illness

ii. Current ‘candidate’ gene by environment approaches are still reductive heuristics, not explanations of psychopathology.

b. Overly reductive pharmacologic and endocrine models persist in academic research despite contrary evidence, as do failed animal models rejected by industry.

c. Linear, causal psychological narratives may be comforting, even helpful, but are not veridical

i. Motivation and decision-making are opaque to introspection (as Freud knew, but lacked the tools to investigate).

ii. Cognitive and computational neuroscience are beginning to draw a better picture

d. The DSM classification, based on drawing a large number of fictive categories, has proved damaging to science

iv. Epochal technological advances (genomics, computation, stem cell biology, genome engineering, microscopy, and brain-machine interfaces) are fundamentally changing the science relevant to psychiatry; new ideas are following from technologically enabled observations.

v. The complexity is humbling, but the emerging picture of psychopathology will be one of biological mechanisms, whether of molecular targets within protein complexes (cellular machines) affected by drugs, or synapses and circuits affected by cognitive therapies, adaptive therapies, or neuromodulation.



Grove Auditorium, Magdalen College
Longwall Street
Oxford, OX1 4AU United Kingdom
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