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"Small Brains Big Ideas"

A course for LatinoAmerican students organized by UMass Chan and the University of Chile.

The 4th offering will be in November 2016.

Small Brains Big Ideas

The Biannual “Small Brains, Big Ideas” is a laboratory course dedicated to promote the use of invertebrate model systems, such as Drosophila, C.elegans, bees and butterflies to understand brain organization, function and behavior. The course has been offered in various cities in Chile, and it is directed to latinoamerican students and postdoctoral fellows. The course is a dynamic combination of practical exercises, as well as lectures and seminars from Latinoamerican and UMass Chan Neuroscience faculty over a period of 2 weeks. The objective of the course is to introduce these model organisms, which are relatively inexpensive and thus easily adaptable to settings in which resources for basic science are scarce, to ask fundamental questions about the workings of the brain.

History: The course was inspired on a similar course experience for chilean students which was organized by Dr. Jimena Sierralta (University of Chile School of Medicine) and Dr. Vivian Budnik (UMass Chan). The success of this experience and the leadership efforts of a chilean UMass Chan graduate student, Yuly-Fuentes Medel, led to the concept and organization of "Small Brains, Big Ideas", conducted in Santiago, Chile, in October 2010 with Chilean neuroscientists Jimena Sierralta, John Ewer and Andrea Calixto as the Chilean co-organizers and Mark Alkema, Claire Benard, Scott Waddell, Marc Freeman and Vivian Budnik as the US co-organizers. Since then the course has been  offered in 2012 and 2014, and will be offered in the Fall 2016.  

Support: This effort has been supported by grants and contributions from Conicyt, EMBO, the Department of Neurobiology and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Chan, and the department of xxx at the University of Oxford.

Small Brains, Big ideas #2 LIVE!


Sierralta's Lab

Dr. Jimena Sierralta in an Associate Professor at the University of Chile School of Medicine and a coorganizer of the course.


My lab home at Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahía Blanca, Argentina

by Ignacio Bergé


My lab at the Genetics of Learning Laboratory, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

By Alvaro San Martin, Pagani's lab


Me and My University

By Viviana Hermosilla, Universidad de Concepcion, Chile


How do moth ears deal with bat's echolocation?

by Yohami Fernandez, University of La Habana, Cuba


C.elegans in Uruguay

by Laura Romanelli, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay


A bit of neuroscience from Colombia

Jenny Jaramillo & María José Contrera, Instituto de Genética, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.