Gallagher Lecture & Plenaries

General Session Schedule and Descriptions:

The 2016 Gallagher Lecture

Wednesday, March 9          1:15 - 2:00 p.m.

Adolescent Brain Development in Context: Implications for Health, Education, and Social Policy 

Ronald Dahl, MD

We are in the midst of an explosion of advances in several areas of basic science that inform human development—including rapid expansions in understanding social, affective and cognitive neuroscience. More specifically, there has been a growing interest in understanding how learning and experience—particularly during sensitive periods of development—can influence connectivity among maturing neural circuits in ways that can have enduring effects on behavior and emotion. Broadly, this work seeks to discover how individual experiences (such as the effects of parenting, peers, neighborhoods, schools, media, exercise, nutrition, adverse experiences etc.) can sculpt these developing neural systems during periods of relative plasticity. While there has been general recognition that the first few years of life represent a major period of neuroplasticity for humans, there is growing evidence that the onset of puberty heralds another sensitive period of learning, particularly in relation to social and emotional learning. A deeper understanding of these adolescent neuromaturational processes—and the social contexts that actively shape them—can provide new insights for targeted early intervention and prevention. This presentation will summarize key aspects of this research. It also will consider several of the challenges in translating this research to inform clinical and social policy.

Learning objectives:
  • To learn about research in developmental social and affective neuroscience that is relevant to understanding adolescence
  • To better understand the role of social contexts in shaping the neural processes during this sensitive period of development
  • To place this research within a larger trans-disciplinary developmental science of adolescence 

Ronald Dahl is a pediatrician and developmental scientist with long history of commitment to interdisciplinary team research with the long-term goal of improving the lives of children and adolescents. His research has ranged from basic studies of neurobiological and psychological development, clinical studies in pediatrics and child psychiatry, to consideration of the social, family, and cultural contexts that shape neurobehavioral development. He has published more than 200 scientific articles in the areas of child and adolescent development, behavioral/emotional health in youth, sleep and its disorders in youth, adolescent brain development, and the public health/policy implications of this work. He also has been a dedicated mentor to many students, residents, fellows, post-docs, and junior faculty—spanning a wide range of disciplines, including: pediatrics, child psychiatry, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, neuroscience, and public health. 
He is currently serving as Director, Institute of Human Development UC Berkeley; Professor, Community Health and Human Development in the School of Public Health; and Professor, UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. He is a Founding Editor of the Journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, and is currently serving as President of the Society for Research in Child Development. 
Most recently, he has taken the lead in creating the Center on the Developing Adolescent:   a transdisciplinary research center founded on the recognition that adolescence represents a maturational period of great vulnerabilities and opportunities—with lifelong impact on health, education, well-being, and social as well as economic success. 
The 2016 Gallagher Lecture is supported by

Plenary Session 

Thursday, March 10          9:45 - 10:45 a.m.

Can Law Impact Adolescent Health? A Global Inquiry

Terry McGovern, JD

The session will explore the impact of law on adolescent health outcomes and interrogate the rationality of various laws looking at countries from different regions. The session will highlight inconsistencies in laws governing sexual and reproductive health access and obstacles to access in countries with plural legal systems.

Learning objectives:

  • To recognize the impact of law on adolescent health
  • To highlight variations in legal standards globally that affect adolescent health
  • Explore complications for sexual reproductive health in countries with plural legal systems

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