The Simms/Mann Institute 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.
For our 2019 Think Tank, we took an interdisciplinary approach and brought together a range of researchers to showcase cutting-edge science related to children ages 0-3.
The 2019 Think Tank Theme, “Rituals, Routines & Body Rhythms: The Simple and Profound Impacts of When We Eat, Sleep, and Play for Health Across the Lifespan” emphasized the importance of the circadian rhythm in everyday routines.
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.
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.
Nathan A. Fox is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology. He conducts research on the biological bases of social and emotional behavior, developing methods for assessing brain activity in infants and young children during tasks designed to elicit a range of emotions. His work on the temperamental antecedents of anxiety is funded by the National Institutes of Health where he was awarded a MERIT award for excellence of this research program. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Psychological Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from the Society for Research in Child Development and the Distinguished Mentor Award and G. Stanley Hall Award for Lifelong Achievement in Developmental Science from Division 7 of the American Psychological Association. He is also the recipient in 2017 of the Ruane Award for Outstanding Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He is a founding member of the National Scientific Council for the Developing Child and currently co-Scientific Director of this group and he is one of three Principal Investigators on the Bucharest Early Intervention Project.
Assal Habibi is an Assistant Research Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute at University of Southern California. Her research takes a broad perspective on understating child development. She is interested in how biological dispositions and childhood learning experiences such as music training shape the development of cognitive, emotional and social abilities. She is an expert in the use of electrophysiologic and neuroimaging methods to investigate human brain function and her research have been published in peer reviewed journals including Cerebral Cortex, Music Perception, Neuroimage and PLoS ONE. Dr. Habibi completed her doctoral work at the UC Irvine Department of Cognitive Science, focusing on investigating the effects of long-term musical training on pitch and rhythm processing by assessing brain activity during music listening in adult musicians, non-musicians and patients with auditory impairments. Currently, she is the lead investigator of a 5 -year longitudinal study, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their Youth Orchestra program (YOLA), investigating the effects of early childhood music training on the development of brain function and structure as well as cognitive, emotional, and social development. Dr. Habibi is a classically trained pianist and has many years of musical teaching experience with children which have always been a personal passion.
Susan Kaiser Greenland is an internationally recognized leader in teaching mindfulness and meditation to children, teens, and families. She played a foundational role in making mindfulness practices developmentally appropriate for young people and helped to pioneer activity-based mindfulness with her first book The Mindful Child. Her second book Mindful Games, offers simple explanations of complex concepts, methods, and themes while expanding upon her work developing activity-based mindfulness games. In addition to her work sharing mindfulness with kids, Susan has recorded a series of thirty, brief guided meditations for grownups entitled Mindful Parent, Mindful Child.
Susan co-founded The Inner Kids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that taught secular mindfulness in schools and community-based programs in the greater Los Angeles area from 2001 through 2009. Susan was on the clinical team of the Pediatric Pain Clinic at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, co-investigator on several UCLA research studies on the impact of mindfulness in education, and a collaborator on an investigation of mindful eating for children and caregivers. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Real Simple, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Chicago Tribune and she speaks widely at prestigious institutions and meditation centers in the United States and abroad. To learn more, sign-up for her practice-based newsletter at www.susankaisergreenland.com and follow her on social media.
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.
Dr. Fernando D. Martinez is a Regents’ Professor and Director of the Asthma & Airway Disease Research Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Dr. Martinez is a world-renowned expert, and one of the most highly regarded researchers, in the field of childhood asthma. His primary research interests are the natural history, genetics, and treatment of childhood asthma.
His groundbreaking research has had an impact on his field in numerous ways, most prominent among them the development of the concept of the early origins of asthma and COPD. This concept is now widely accepted as the potential basis for the design of new strategies for the prevention of these devastating illnesses affecting millions of children and adults worldwide. In addition, Dr. Martinez has made important contributions to our understanding of the role of gene-environment interactions in the development of asthma and allergies. He has also been the principal investigator of one of the Clinical Centers that are part of the NHLBI Asthma Treatment Networks, which have contributed fundamental new evidence on which to base national guidelines for the treatment of the disease.
Dr. Martinez currently serves on national scientific boards including the NHLBI National Advisory Council and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. He was a member of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program that was responsible for the development of the Expert Panel Report: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma in 1997 and its first revision in 2001. He also has been a member of the FDA Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee and the Board of Extramural Advisors of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Dr. Martinez’s research and vision are well detailed in more than 250 original research papers and editorials, many in collaboration with investigators from all over the world. He is frequently invited to give keynote presentations at national and international meetings.
Dr. Jodi Mindell is the Associate Director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she treats children of all ages. She is also a professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and of pediatrics (psychology) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Dr. Mindell is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading pediatric sleep researchers. She has written extensively on pediatric sleep disorders with over 150 publications and over 300 presentations at national and international conferences. She is the author of Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep (HarperCollins) and co-author of A Clinical Guide to Pediatric Sleep: Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems (Wolters Kluwer) and Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens (Marlowe). The majority of her research focuses on the assessment and treatment of common sleep problems in young children, as well as sleep problems related to pregnancy and parenting.
Dr. Mindell is frequently quoted in national and international media including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Parents, and Huffington Post. She has made over 300 television and radio appearances, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and NBC Nightly News. Dr. Mindell is on the Board of Advisers of Parents magazine and the Advisory Board of Johnson’s Baby, as well as a member of the Medical Advisory Board for BabyCenter.com.
Dr. Mindell is founder and chair of the Pediatric Sleep Council, an international organization dedicated to sleep education of young children that has developed www.babysleep.com, and as founder and co-chair of the biannual international Pediatric Sleep Medicine conference. She is an affiliate member of the Asia Pacific Pediatric Sleep Alliance, and was associate editor for the journal Sleep and on the editorial board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine. She also has been on the Board of Directors of the National Sleep Foundation, a foundation established to educate the public about sleep and sleep disorders, and the Sleep Research Society. Finally, Dr. Mindell was the recent recipient of the Mary A. Carskadon Outstanding Educator Award of the Sleep Research Society.
Dr. Satchin Panda is a professor at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, and author of the book “The Circadian Code”. He is a frequent speaker in international conferences on metabolism, exercise and chronic diseases. His research focuses on how circadian clocks regulate behavior, physiology and metabolism. His discovery of how a blue light sensor in the eyes affect sleep-wake cycle, depression and alertness is leading a new revolution in managing light to improve health. Recently he discovered that maintaining a daily feeding-fasting cycle – popularly known as Time-restricted eating (TRE) – can prevent and reverse many chronic diseases and increase lifespan.
Dr. Wendy Slusser is Associate Vice Provost at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), for Chancellor Block’s Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA that was envisioned and is supported by Jane and Terry Semel; Dr. Slusser is also HS Clinical Professor of Pediatrics in the UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and Co-Founder and Academic Director of the UCLA Fit for Healthy Weight program. Dr. Slusser graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University, received her Medical Degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and her Masters Degree in Science from the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University. She completed her internship and residency in Pediatrics at Babies Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She joined the UCLA faculty in 1996 and since then has been a leader in community, school, clinic, and family-based programs related to health promotion, infant and child nutrition and physical fitness.
The Simms/Mann Institute is proud to announce the 2019 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.