The Simms/Mann Institute Think Tank is unique in its transdisciplinary focus; emphasis on the importance of whole child development; and surprise-and-delight moments that make the day a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Simms/Mann Think Tank is an annual convening of leading neuroscientists from around the world who present to—and engage with—a select group of 500 stakeholders who can directly impact policy and practice in early child development. Researchers showcase cutting-edge science related to children ages 0-3 for leaders from fields including education, medicine, business and philanthropy, who can immediately incorporate the research in their work with children, families and communities.
The Think Tank is also a big stage to recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions of leaders in the field of 0-3. At the Think Tank, the Institute presents Whole Child Awards to leaders in medicine and education, and introduces the new cohort of Simms/Mann Faculty Fellows.
Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. His grant-funded research focuses on: (1) the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, relationship quality, and mental health; (2) the measurement of emotional intelligence; (3) best practices for teaching emotional intelligence; and (3) the influences of emotional intelligence training on children’s and adults’ effectiveness, health, creativity, and both school and workplace climate. Marc has published 125 scholarly articles and has received numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning and an honorary doctorate from Manhattanville College. He also is a distinguished scientist on the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.
Marc is the lead developer of RULER (an acronym for the five key emotion skills of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions) is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by over 1,500 public, charter, and private pre-school to high schools across the United States and in other countries, including Australia, China, England, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Sri Lanka. RULER infuses social and emotion learning into the immune system of schools by enhancing how school administrators lead, educators teach, students learn, and families parent. Research has shown that RULER boosts academic performance, decreases school problems like bullying, enriches classroom climates, reduces teacher stress and burnout, and enhances teacher instructional practices.
Marc regularly consults with large companies, including Facebook and Google on best practices for integrating the principles of emotional intelligence into training and product design. With Facebook, he has developed a number of products, including: social resolution tools to help adults and youth resolve online conflict, the bullying prevention hub to support educators, families, and teens, and InspirED, an open-source resource center to support high school students in leading positive change in their schools. Marc also holds a 5th degree black belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art.
Natasha J. Cabrera, Ph.D, is Professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland. Dr. Cabrera’s research focuses on father involvement and children’s social and cognitive development; adaptive and maladaptive factors related to parenting; cultural variation in ethnic minority families; and, the mechanisms linking early experiences to children’s school readiness. Dr. Cabrera has studied fathers for the last 20 years. In her previous position with NICHD, she developed a major initiative called Developing a Daddy Survey (DADS), which coordinated measures of father involvement across major studies in the field and provided a set of measures for others to use. Dr. Cabrera has published in peer-reviewed journals on policy, methodology, theory and the implications of fathering and mothering behaviors on child development in low-income minority families. She is the co-editor of the Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 2nd Edition (Taylor & Francis, 2013) and Latina/o Child Psychology and Mental Health: Vol 1 and 2 (Praeger, 2011). Dr. Cabrera is an Associate Editor of Child Development and the recipient of the National Council and Family Relations award for Best Research Article regarding men in families in 2009. In 2015, the National Academy of Sciences appointed her to its committee on parents of young children; in 2016, she was a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar; and, in 2017 she was a DAAD visiting scholar, University of Ruhr, Germany. She is co-PI at the National Center for Research on Hispanic Families and Children co-directing the fatherhood and healthy marriage focus area.
Ruth Feldman, PhD, is the Simms-Mann professor of developmental social neuroscience and director of the Center for Developmental, Social, and Relationship Neuroscience at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzlia with a joint appointment at Yale University Child Study Center. She is also director of the Irving B. Harris community-based clinic and internship program for young children and their families. Her research focuses on the biological basis of social affiliation, processes of biobehavioral synchrony, longitudinal follow-up of infants at high risk stemming from biological (e.g., prematurity), maternal (e.g., postpartum depression), and contextual (e.g., war-related trauma) risk conditions, the neuroscience of empathy, and the effects of touch-based interventions. Her studies on the role of oxytocin in health and psychopathology have been instrumental for understanding the biological basis of social collaboration in humans. Her research on the maternal and paternal brain, human bond formation, the long-term effects of Kangaroo-Care on premature infants, the brain basis of conflict resolution, and the effects of maternal postpartum depression on children’s brain and behavior received substantial empirical and media attention. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, has been on the editorial board of several high-impact journals, and has published over 300 articles in scientific journals and book chapters.
Dr. Fisher is Philip H. Knight Chair and Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, where he serves as Founding Director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience. He is also Senior Fellow and Director of the Translational Science Initiative at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. His research focuses on developing and evaluating early childhood interventions in socially and economically marginalized communities, and on translating scientific knowledge regarding healthy development under conditions of adversity for use in social policy and programs. He is particularly interested in the effects of early stressful experiences on children’s neurobiological and psychological development, and in prevention and treatment programs for improving maltreated children’s functioning in areas such as attachment to caregivers, relationships with peers, and functioning in school. He is also interested in the brain’s plasticity in the context of therapeutic interventions. Dr. Fisher is the developer of Treatment Foster Care Oregon for Preschoolers (TFCO-P), Kids in Transition to School (KITS), and Filming Interactions to Nuture Development. He is the recipient of the 2012 Society for Prevention Research Translational Science Award. He received his BA from Bowdoin College, and his MA and PhD from the University of Oregon.
Dr. Levitt is the Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the WM Keck Provost Professor of Neurogenetics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. He also serves as the Director of the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program. Dr. Levitt has held chair and institute directorships at the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Levitt has been a MERIT awardee from the National Institute of Mental Health and served as a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council for the National Institute of Mental Health. He is an elected member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Sonia Lupien is the founder and director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (www.humanstress.ca) whose mission is to transfer scientifically validated knowledge on stress to the general public.
For the last 20 years, Sonia Lupien has been studying the effects of stress on the human brain from infancy to adulthood and old age. Her studies have shown that children are as vulnerable as adults to stress, and children as young as age six can produce high levels of stress hormones. Her research in adults has shown that stress can significantly impair memory performance. In older adults, her studies have shown the effects of stress on the aging brain.
In her new research projects, Sonia Lupien is working on differences between men and women in stress reactivity, and has created new educational programs on stress in adolescents and workers. For adolescents, she has created the ‘DeStress for Success Program’ to teach adolescents who are making the transition from elementary to high school, about ways to control stress. She also developed ‘Stress Inc©’, a program to assist workers to recognize and control stress in the workplace, by means of a computer program.
Sonia Lupien is greatly involved in the transfer of scientific knowledge to the public and has recently published a book entitled ‘Par amour du stress’ to help the public better understand stress as it has been studied for the last 50 years by scientists across the world.
Dr. Emeran Mayer is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Executive Director of the Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and Co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA. Dr. Mayer has had a career-long interest in the role of mind brain body interactions in health and chronic disease, which he has pursued early in his career by studying healers amongst indigenous tribes in the Orinoco area (Yanoami), and in Irian Jaja (Asmat). He has a longstanding interest in ancient healing traditions, and has personally practiced different mind based strategies, including Zen meditation, Ericksonian hypnosis, and Autogenic Training. He started his research carrier at the Institute of Physiology in Munich, with a dissertation into the mechanisms by which stress and the brain affects coronary blood flow in the heart. After moving to the US, he became a gastroenterologist and focused his work on basic, translational and clinical aspects of brain gut interactions. He has 30 years of experience in the study of clinical and neurobiological aspects of how the digestive system and the nervous system interact in health and disease, and his work has been continuously supported by several NIH grants. He has published over 300 peer reviewed articles (average H index 76), including 90 chapters and reviews, co-edited four books, and organized several interdisciplinary symposia in the area of visceral pain and mind body interactions. He is a thought after speaker all over the world, with 32 speaking engagements during the past 2 years. He has made seminal contributions to the characterization of physiologic alterations in patients with various chronic pain disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as on pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment approaches to this conditions. He has been studying brain mechanisms underlying the effect of mind body interventions such as hypnosis, mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy on chronic pain. He is principal investigator on a center grant from the National Institutes of Health on sex-related differences in brain gut interactions, and on a NIDDK funded consortium grant (Multidisciplinary Approaches to Pelvic Pain, MAPP) in which he also heads a multisite neuroimaging core. His research efforts during the past few years have focused on several new areas of brain gut interactions, in particular on the role of the gut microbiota in influencing brain structure and function, and associated behavior, and on the role of food addiction in obesity. In addition to his research accomplishments, he is a nationally renowned clinical expert on disorders related to altered brain gut interactions, including irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia, chronic nausea, cyclical vomiting syndrome.
Michael J Meaney is a James McGill Professor of Medicine at Douglas Mental health University Institute of McGill University. He is the Director of the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment Project. Meaney also joined the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences in 2008 as a Senior Investigator and leads the Integrative Neuroscience Program. Meaney was educated at Loyola College of Montreal and received his PhD from Concordia University (Montreal) with post-doctoral training in Cell and Molecular Neurobiology at The Rockefeller University. Meaney’s primary research interest is that of the stable effects of early experience on gene expression and development, focusing on the influence of variations in maternal care. These studies have led to the discovery of novel epigenetic mechanisms for the influence of early experience. Meaney’s research is multidisciplinary and includes studies of behaviour and physiology, to molecular biology and genetics. He has authored over 375 journal articles. Graduates from Meaney’s lab holds faculty appointments across North America, Asia and Europe, including Columbia University, Queen’s University, University of California at Berkley, University of British Columbia, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, the University of Toronto, INSERM (France) and the RIKEN Institute of Japan.
Arietta Slade, Ph.D. is Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Center, and Professor Emerita, Clinical Psychology, The City University of New York. An internationally recognized theoretician, clinician, researcher, and teacher, she has published widely on the development of parental reflective functioning, the implications of attachment for psychoanalytic psychotherapy with children and adults, and for relationship-based infant mental health practice. She is a Founder and Co-Director of Minding the Baby®, an interdisciplinary reflective home visiting program for high-risk mothers, infants, and their families, at the Yale Child Study Center and School of Nursing, one of only 19 certified “evidence-based” home visiting programs in the United States. Dr. Slade is author, with Jeremy Holmes, of Attachment in Therapeutic Practice (Holmes & Slade, SAGE Publications, 2018), and editor of the six volume set, Major Work on Attachment (Slade & Holmes, SAGE Publications, 2014), of Mind to Mind: Infant Research, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis (Jurist, Slade, & Bergner, Other Press, 2008), and Children at Play (Slade & Wolf, Oxford University Press, 1994). She has also been in private practice for thirty-five years, working with individuals of all ages.
The Simms/Mann Institute is proud to announce the 2018 Whole Child Awards to honor leaders who pursue a whole child approach in their work. This year, the Simms Mann Institute is expanding the Whole Child Award to honor extraordinary individuals from a variety of sectors. Specifically, we are looking for individuals who have made a significant impact in the zero to three space as medical clinicians (OB/GYNs, pediatricians, or nurses), nonprofit/community leaders, or educational champions. Each winner will receive a $25,000 award and recognition at the Simms Mann Institute Think Tank.