Now in its 11th year, the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences gathers science reporters for an annual, daylong event focused on a single research topic. Journalists enjoy firsthand access to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers and physicians, getting the opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in health, medicine and science. Past events focused on topics ranging from sensory biology to epigenetics to pain and tissue regeneration and the brain to metabolism research and the immune system and immunology. Nearly 100 journalists and science writers from all regions in the U.S. and Canada have attended this exclusive event.

Who Can Attend

The Science Writers' Boot Camp is open to science communicators of all types including writers, journalists, bloggers and public information officers. To join our email list for information about our events, please contact us at writersbootcamp@jhmi.edu.


Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Director of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience

The Space Between Neurons: Where Developmental and Mental Health Disorders Begin

When a single mutation wrecks the tiny space between neurons in the brain, where key messages about memories and learning are traded, a developmental disorder called SYNGAP1 begins. What researchers have learned about this disorder and how to potentially treat it may also reveal new insights on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other neurological conditions.

Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Neuroscience

Deep-Diving into the Brain, Where Faulty Connections Offer Insights to Disease

Zoom in to the microspace connecting neurons to see what happens in the brains of people with cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's disease

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Institute for Computational Medicine, Center for Imaging Science, Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Sciences

Open Access to the Brain: a Computer "Connectome" Links Brain Images in Fine Detail

What can we learn from connecting databases of brain imaging data? The Open Connectome Project is an ambitious endeavor to visualize the brain in extraordinary detail, one neuron at a time. Learn more.

Joshua Sharfstein

Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Stemming the Opioid Epidemic with Science

Policy and population science expert Joshua Sharfstein will discuss a basic conundrum: Some of the most popular efforts to address the opioid crisis do not work, while approaches based in science can be deeply unpopular.

Bessie Darling Massey Professor and Director, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Director, Center for Imaging Science, Co-director, Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute

Engineering the Future of Medicine: Predicting Alzheimer’s Disease

At Johns Hopkins University, the Department of Biomedical Engineering is Engineering the Future of Medicine by developing the technologies that cure disease. Dr. Miller will present highlights from his own research, which uses computational medicine approaches to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease years before the onset of clinical symptoms.

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

The Motivation Problem: Learning What Drives Depression and other Neurological Disorders

What motivates us? Understanding the connection between motivation and behavior can help scientists develop better treatments for neurological and psychological impairments.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Public Health and Engineering

The "epigenome": a key to unlock how the environment plus genetics cause disease

Researchers have found connections between the DNA sequence — chemical letters that spell out our genes — and epigenetic tags — “punctuation” that turns those genes on and off. Errors in the letters and punctuation may cause cancer and psychiatric disease.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

A Crystal Ball on Addiction

Amid a sea of people who need painkillers, who is more or less likely to get addicted? That's the question posed by researchers who are studying the genetic risk factors linked to drug dependency and addiction. Their ultimate goal: predict who is most at risk of dependency and help doctors intervene.

Emma Beth McGinty

Deputy Director of the Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research and the Associate Director of the ALACRITY Center for Health and Longevity in Mental Illness, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Myths and Misconceptions About Mental Health and Addiction

Nearly half of Americans will experience mental illness or a substance use disorder in their lifetime. Despite the wide prevalence, negative stereotypes persist, often because of misconceptions about mental health and violence. Learn the facts about how health and social policy affect mental health and substance use. Learn more.

Instructor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit

The Buzz on Caffeine: Laboratory and Treatment Studies

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Although moderate caffeine consumption is associated with few health risks, Mary Sweeney will discuss recent evidence that suggests (1) caffeinated energy drink consumption is associated with a range of risky behaviors, (2) added caffeine increases some reinforcing effects of alcohol, and (3) persistent problematic caffeine use can be associated with meaningful clinical impairment but may be treated effectively with brief behavioral intervention. Learn more.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Pediatrics at the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy

The Substance Exposed Mother and Infant

Lauren Jansson provides pediatric care to children of women with substance use disorders, and is a researcher evaluating the effects of maternal substance use and misuse on the fetus and infant. Learn how maternal substance use can affect the developing child and the need for comprehensive care for mothers and their children during and after pregnancy.

Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health

A National Perspective on Drug Abuse Research

NIDA director Nora Volkow discusses the most pivotal discoveries in drug dependency research and the challenges ahead.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

An Inflamed Brain May Reveal New Treatments for Psychiatric Disorders

Scientists have spotted inflamed brain cells in marijuana-smoking teens and people with severe depression. If scientists can reverse the inflammation, it may lead to treatments for depression and cognitive problems linked to pot exposure.

Victor Dzau

President, National Academy of Medicine

A National Collaborative to Counter the Opioid Epidemic

What can a collaboration of more than 35 government, hospital, academic, public and private organizations do to halt the opioid epidemic? Victor Dzau, National Academy of Medicine president, will describe the initiative and its aim to create and communicate science-based solutions.

Traci Speed, M.D., Ph.D.
Traci Speed, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
An Answer to the Opioid Crisis: Coordinated Pain Management
Half of overdose deaths in the U.S. are linked to prescription opioids and substance use disorders have reached epidemic proportions. A clinic at Johns Hopkins is having success in weaning surgical patients off chronic opioids with research-based methods and coordinated care before, during and after surgery. Learn more.


Words Matter: how language and images in reporting on addiction can perpetuate its stigma

Joshua Sharfstein

Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Director, Johns Hopkins Broadway Center for Addiction, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Author of Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction. Learn more.

Emma Beth McGinty

Deputy Director of the Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research and the Associate Director of the ALACRITY Center for Health and Longevity in Mental Illness, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


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