The Friends Past Events 2015


December 1, 2015

The Friends screened “The Road Within”, the story of a young man with Tourette’s Syndrome, who just lost his mother. Aided by a rebellious anorexic and a withdrawn OCD roommate, the three embark on a life-changing race to the sea that includes car theft, shoplifting, fights, self-discovery, and maybe finding a new way to live. The film starred Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel, Zoe Kravitz, Kyra Sedgwick, and Robert Patrick. The director of “The Road Within”, Gren Wells and producer, Michael Helfant joined Semel Institute doctors, Andrew Leuchter, MD, Jamie Feusner, MD, John Piacentini, PhD, and Michael Strober, PhD, in post-screening discussion.


November 16, 2015

Renowned author and Director of the Semel Institute, Dr. Peter Whybrow discussed his book, The Well-Tuned Brain. In this optimistic and inspiring book, Dr. Whybrow, the prize-winning author of A Mood Apart and American Mania, offers a prescription for genuine human progress. He poses such questions as: If in the face of the seductive opportunities of the consumer society, is passion again outrunning reason? Have we lost the capacity for self-command and with it a balanced understanding of ourselves?


November 3, 2015

Dr. Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the most important neuroscientists of the twentieth century, spoke about his  book, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience. One of the founders of the field of cognitive neuroscience, Dr. Gazzaniga recounted his decade long journey to understand how the separate spheres of our brains communicate and miscommunicate with their separate agendas. Dr. Gazzaniga is a Professor of Psychology at UC Santa Barbara and the Director of UCSB's SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind. He serves as the president of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute and is also the founding director of the MacArthur Foundation's Law and Neuroscience Project. Dr. Gazzaniga has written numerous books for the lay public including The Social Brain, Mind Matters, Nature's Mind, Who’s In Charge, and What Makes Us Human.


October 11,  2015

Chancellor and Mrs. Gene Block graciously hosted a beautiful reception at their residence for the recipients of the 2015 Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior Scholar Award.  Friends of the Semel supporters and esteemed Semel Institute faculty gathered to honor the five exceptional young researchers who were chosen to receive this highly competitive award.

Chancellor Block congratulated the five scholars:  Michelle Rozenman, Ph.D., April Thames, Ph.D., Yvonne Yang, MD, PhD, Eliza Congden, Ph.D. and Nanthia Sulthana, Ph.D.   Dr. Kelsey Martin, the Executive Vice Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA,  told the audience that she was especially proud that all five scholars this year were women.  Dr. Andrew Leuchter, faculty advisor to The Friends, introduced each scholar and spoke briefly about their field of research. On behalf of all the scholars, Dr. Yvonne Yang, the recipient of the Chancellor Gene Block Scholar Award, expressed her gratitude to The Friends for supporting young investigators and giving them the opportunity to establish themselves as primary researchers in their chosen field.

Each Friends Scholar receives a two -year grant of up to $50,000 per year to support their groundbreaking research.  This is a highly competitive award and each year we receive many more applications from postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members than we have available funding for.   A panel of esteemed Semel Institute faculty and Friends of Semel Board members evaluates each proposed study and the finalists are interviewed. After completing the selection process, our only regret is that were not able to support more scholars grants.


October 6,  2015

Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, is a leader in the field of developmental psychopathology and one of the foremost experts on ADHD in the country.  Hinshaw is currently the editor of the highly regarded Psychological Bulletin and a renowned author of seven books, including The ADHD Explosion and The Triple Bind: Saving our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures. Dr. Hinshaw spoke about the stigma of mental illness: personal, family, and policy perspectives.


September 9,  2015

The Friends screened “Walking Man”,  an honest look at one family's journey with mental illness. After a Missouri high school loses three students to suicide, Mark Norwine (a mental health advocate) embarks on a 200-mile walk across the state, seeking to educate students and better understand the epidemic for himself. Mark is joined by his son, Eric, but when the road proves difficult, father and son must confront their own mental health struggles, which they've kept secret for so long.


June 22,  2015

Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby play a pair of New Yorkers suffering from bipolar disorder in Paul Dalio's Mania Days, but each character has a little bit of Dalio himself in their bones. Dalio wrote, directed, edited and scored his debut feature, which deals with many of the issues he tackled while trying to find a balance with his own bipolar disorder.


May 29,  2015

Art and Craft tells the story of Mark Landis, one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. Diagnosed as a teenager with schizophrenia and multiple behavioral disorders in the 1970?s, Landis had endured a lifetime of marginalization as a person living with mental illness and his elaborate thirty-year forgery con became a means to change all that, allowing him to regain control and finally be given respect. After the screening, the film’s director, Sam Cullman joined Dr. Stephen Marder and Dr. Andrew Leuchter in discussion.


April 19,  2015

Hundreds of guests of the Friends of the Semel Institute gathered at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on April 19 for the Great Minds Gala, which raised more than $1 million for the Friends Scholar Program, which supports the research of young scientists at the Semel Institute working to develop innovative treatments for mental and neurological disorders.


March 3,  2015

Dr. David Miklowitz is  director of the Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program at UCLA’s Semel Institute. He is the author of The Bipolar Survival Guide and The Bipolar Teen, and recently co-authored The Clinicians Guide to Bipolar Disorder with Dr. Michael Gitlin. Dr. Miklowitz discussed the signs of mood disorders in children and teens and talked about how we can distinguish them from other common psychiatric conditions such as ADHD and anxiety disorders. He was joined in discussion by Dr. Peter Whybrow.


February 3,  2015

Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind dicussed his newest book, Life, Animated, that chronicles his son Owen’s struggle with autism and the way in which the family used Owen’s affinity for Disney to connect with him. UCLA Drs. Daniel Geschwind and Shafali Spurling Jeste joined Mr. Suskind in discussion.


January 12,  2015

In the  animated film Rocks in My Pockets, Latvian-born artist and filmmaker Signe Baumane tells five fantastical tales based on the courageous women in her family and their battles with mental illness. With boundless imagination and a twisted sense of humor, she has created daring stories of art, romance, marriage, nature, business, and Eastern European upheaval—all in the fight for her own sanity. After the screening, director Signe Baumane discussed the film with Dr. Peter Whybrow of the Semel Institute.

Copyright 2016, The Friends of the Semel Institute

Copyright 2016, The Friends of the Semel Institute