Dr. Ralph J. Greenspan, Between Behavior and Neurobiology

ralph-greenspanDr. Ralph J. Greenspan began studying the genetic and neurological aspects of behavior in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) when he was a graduate student at Brandeis University. There, he worked with Jeffery Hall one of the field’s founders and has continued in this analysis of the genetic and neurobiological role in the fly’s innate and learned behaviors.

In his studies of fruit flies, he has determined that fruit flies have a sleep like state similar to the way mammals sleep. Watch this video as he explains what can be determined about the necessity and purpose of sleep.

Greenspan is determined in his continued study of the nervous system and its correlation with behavior, as he believes there may be a unifying principle for the operation of biological networks that applies to wide varieties of neurobiology, perhaps even that of humans.

Greenspan is now the associate director of the Kavli Institute for Mind and Brain at UC San Diego, where he was recently named founding director of the new Center for Brain Activity Mapping. The center, created as a direct response to President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, plans to map the brain down to the resolution level of single cells and the timescale of a millisecond.

The research done at the Center for Brain Activity Mapping will study disorders such as autism and alzheimer’s and will hopefully one day lead to treatments and cures.

Hear Greenspan discuss the latest work of the Center of Brain Activity Mapping at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, hosted by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. The conference will be held on October 2 through 4 at Scripps Seaside Forum and the Qualcomm Institute (formerly known as Calit2) in La Jolla, California. For more information on registration, visit atlanticmeetspacific.com.


Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream

Chopra’s newest book, Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream, revisits the topic of immigration and details his experience behind why he wrote the letter to the Boston Globe decades ago. This book, released only a few weeks ago, could not have been planned more timely with the heated debate over the immigration bill recently passed in the senate.

This story, co-authored by his brother Sanjiv, is the tale of two Indian doctors who have come to the U.S.to live out the American dream, during the Vietnam war when there was a doctor shortage. Watch this preview of their tale.


In a time such as now, with the country fiercely divided on immigration issues, the Chopra brothers reveal their experience as immigrants and their journey of making America their new home. They explain that an alienation from one’s home country must take place before assimilation can be achieved. In empathizing with the story of two immigrant doctors, readers can better understand the difficulties faced by the illegal migrant workers from Mexico and their hopes of pursuing that same American dream.


Deepak Chopra’s life story is a brotherly tale.

Hear the two brothers discuss their book on PBS.

To read an article from Deepak about how this book relates to current immigration issues, click here.

Deepak will be speaking at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, hosted by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. The conference will be held on October 2 through 4 at Scripps Seaside Forum and Calit2, now known as the Qualcomm Institute in La Jolla, California. For more information on speakers and registration, please visit atlanticmeetspacific.com

The Latest Buzz in Self Quantifying

This morning, KPBS reporter Angela Carone unveiled the latest device from UC San Diego’s Calit2, now known as the Qualcomm Institute, invented by the director of the institute, Ramesh Rao.

This new self quantifying system of machines is called the Bliss Buzzer and is worn to measure heart rate in order to determine when the user is optimally relaxed, at which point it gives the wearer a small vibration, or buzz.

Just like a pedometer that measures one’s steps, the Bliss Buzzer is a training device, intended to make people more aware of the subtle functioning of their own body.

Rao created the device with the intention of showing people when they are really relaxed, hoping that with this knowledge they will strive to create more restful moments through out the day. Carone describes the buzz as an inaudible, enjoyable tingling, that could unknowingly trigger the user to want to have more buzzes and therefore, more restful moments.

“You can get hooked on the buzz without knowing that you’re doing it,” Rao tells KPBS. “And so to the extent that we are associating it with healthful states, that’s a good entrainment. It teaches you.”

But the absence of the buzz can also indicate something. Wearers could notice they haven’t buzzed in a while and realize they should take a moment to remove stress.

Rao said he was driven to create the Bliss Buzzer when he began self quantifying five years ago, a craze popularized by Calit2’s founding director, Larry Smarr. Like Smarr, Rao noticed his lifestyle heading in an unhealthy direction and he decided to track the changes as he altered his diet, began exercising and has become devoted to yoga.

In this video, catch a glimpse inside the Qualcomm Institute, as Rao and Smarr discuss the institute’s accomplishments on it’s tenth anniversary.

Or, get a look inside the Qualcomm Institute yourself at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, presented by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. Also hear from the self quantifying expert, Larry Smarr, at the conference, held on October 2 through 4 at the Qualcomm Institute and the Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla, California.

Please visit atlanticmeetspacific.com for registration and more information.

Todd Coleman, a Man of Multidisciplinary Medicine

Todd Coleman received B.S. degrees in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering from University of Michigan and went on to earn a PhD in Electrical Engineering from MIT, where he also did postdoctoral work in neuroscience.

Like his studies, Coleman’s current work is considered quite interdisciplinary, categorized somewhere in between neuroscience, electrical engineering, applied mathematics and bio-electronics.

Coleman is now the director of the Neural Interaction laboratory, and associate professor of Bioengineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. He was also recently named one of San Diego Magazine‘s “50 people to watch in 2013.”

One of Coleman’s current projects is a wireless electronic tattoo used to monitor brainwaves or muscle contractions, especially helpful for newborn babies and pregnant mothers. Some of his other work includes research on a brain interface machine that will enhance one’s ability to perform daily activities, particularly relevant to those with disabilities.

Watch UC-TV’s coverage of Coleman’s presentation about his “epidermal electronics” project.

Coleman, and his work that could improve hospital patients’ comfort, will join the other speakers with ideas to revolutionize health care at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific. The third annual conference, hosted by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine, will be held at Scripps Seaside Forum and Calit2 in La Jolla, California on October 2nd through 4th. For more information on registration and speakers like Coleman visit atlanticmeetspacific.com.

Quantifying Oneself and Quantifying the Benefits

When Socrates gave the commandment “know thyself,” he could have never imagined how literally “self quantifiers” would take this notion of self understanding.

Self tracking has become trendier than ever. This year’s South by SouthWest had a panel dedicated to discussing the latest apps and devices used for anything from counting calories and steps to levels of amino acids in the body.

The popular Fitbit and Nike Fuelband only skim the surface of the self tracking movement.

Peter Zandan, chairman of Hill+ Knowlton Strategies, who headed the sxsw panel about “how self-tracking geeks are shaping our future,” gave NPR this list of some of the most popular and cutting edge products in the self tracking movement: 23andMe, for DNA analysis; Talking20, amino acid testing; Moodscope, a mood tracking app; Zeo, a sleep monitoring device; and Equanimity, an app that aids meditation practices.


Larry Smarr during last year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific

At last year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, Larry Smarr showcased some of his favorite self tracking devices, including his Zeo headband and Fitbit.

Smarr has become one of the most well known self trackers, after the Atlantic Magazine’s article about him, titled “The Measured Man” revealed the inside scoop and benefit of such obsessive self inquiry. Smarr took his self quantifying a bit further than most, collecting and testing stool samples. But, this led to a perfect example of how useful self quantifying can be and how it could drastically reshape healthcare.

larry-smarrTo hear Smarr explain how his data collection led to his early self diagnosis of a chronic illness, check out UC-TV’s coverage of his talk and all of last year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific.

This year, Smarr will once again speak at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, held at Scripps Seaside Forum and Calit2 in La Jolla, California. From October 2nd through 4th, UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine will host a series of speakers, like Smarr, to discuss the forefront of technology, energy, and health.

Check atlanticmeetspacific.com for more information on this year’s event.

Get More Miles Out of Your Body with Modern Technology

Our bodies are like cars – they need regular checkups and maintenance.  But, unfortunately, most of us bring our cars in for service (e.g., pinpointing leaks before they get serious & regular oil changes every 6,000 miles) more than we schedule regular check-ups for ourselves.  Computer science mastermind and former astrophysicist, Larry Smarr, Ph.D., aims to change this . . .

Dr. Smarr, the founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and Harry E. Gruber Professor in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School, is not only interested in math and supercomputers, he’s also interested in changing the face of healthcare by using technology to regularly map the human body to discover potential problems before they start.

Picture it – if data were regularly collected from our bodies, tested, mapped and interpreted, we would have the power to preemptively diagnose issues before they become a problem – we could then take preventive measures to stop the potential problems from occurring.  Doing this, with the help of modern technology, is what Dr. Smarr and others like Eric Topol envision is on the horizon of healthcare.

So, when Larry talks about the potential for computers to help us understand our bodies, he isn’t talking about their showing us more isolated details about an unfathomably complex system; he’s talking about knowing everything.”

Learn more from Dr. Smarr at the upcoming Atlantic Meets the Pacific Conference.

For more information about the upcoming Atlantic Meets the Pacific (TAMTP) Conference (October 7-9, 2012), contact information and list of speakers, please visit the following link: http://www.atlanticmeetspacific.com

To register for the event, please visit:

The Atlantic Meets the Pacific Lab Experience: Top Talent Off the Stage

by Joanna Sandager

The Atlantic Meets the Pacific will be enhanced by exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of groundbreaking research centers and interactive laboratories. Attendees will have the rare opportunity to interact with leading scientists off the stage and get a first-hand look at cutting-edge research that is transforming our future.

This year’s lab tours will maintain AtlanticLIVE’s tradition of bringing editorial excellence off the page by bringing the conversation off the stage.

Please check out our featured labs listed below, and be sure to check back in the coming weeks for a closer look at the exciting research and experiences each of these labs will be highlighting during the event.

Featured Labs:

For more information about the individual labs that will be featured at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific Conference, visit: http://www.atlanticmeetspacific.com/lab-tours.html.

Registered attendees will receive details on registering for their preferred lab experience in the weeks leading up to the event. Guided tours will take place the afternoon of Monday, October 8. Transportation will be provided from the conference.