BB&D 6th Annual Research Day

BB&D 6th Annual Research Day

The annual event will take place virtually via Zoom on Monday, October 4, 2021! We aim to bring together investigators, trainees and staff across the Theme and from the broader pediatric research community in affiliated hospitals and other institutions, to share, learn and interact online. We have a great half-day planned – the program schedule will include a keynote talk by Dr. Staci Bilbo, lightning talks and an e-poster gallery.

We invite all members and trainees to submit a research abstract. This year, as there are no physical space limitations, we are happy to accept all abstracts for the poster session. All abstract submissions will also be considered for lightning talks.


Registration is now open and will remain open until October 3, 2021. Please use the link above to register. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email containing the Zoom meeting details and Slido event link.

Research Day Keynote and Discovery Talk Speaker

Dr. Staci BilboDr. Staci D. Bilbo, Ph.D

Dr. Staci Bilbo is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Neurobiology, and Cell Biology at Duke University whose research is broadly focused on the mechanisms by which the immune and endocrine systems interact with the brain to impact health and behavior, particularly during critical developmental windows. Her research program is primarily aimed at exploring the mechanisms by which innate central nervous system immune cells - microglia - and signaling molecules such as cytokines and chemokines, influence both normal and abnormal brain development, and the implications for (mal)adaptive behavioral outcomes later in life, including a focus on neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Bilbo received her B.A. in Psychology and Biology from the University of Texas at Austin and her PhD in Neuroendocrinology at Johns Hopkins University. She was on the faculty at Duke University from 2007-2015 before she joined the faculty at Harvard where she served as the Lurie Family Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and as the Director of Research for the Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.  She returned to Duke in 2019 as the Haley Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and maintains an appointment at Harvard to continue her research collaborations in Boston and beyond. 

Keynote Presentation

Microglia, microbes, and development: implications for neurodevelopmental disorders

Gestational exposure to environmental toxins, infections, and stressors are epidemiologically linked to neurodevelopmental disorders with strong male-bias, such as autism spectrum disorder. This talk will discuss findings from modeling some of these prenatal risk factors in mice, consisting of co-exposing pregnant dams to an environmental pollutant and limited-resource stress, which robustly dysregulated the maternal immune system. Male but not female offspring displayed long-lasting behavioral abnormalities and alterations in the activity of brain networks encoding social interactions, along with disruptions of gut structure and microbiome composition. Cellularly, prenatal stressors impaired microglial synaptic pruning in males during early postnatal development. Precise inhibition of microglial phagocytosis during the same critical period mimicked the impact of prenatal stressors on the male-specific social deficits. Conversely, modifying the gut microbiome rescued the social and cellular deficits, indicating that environmental stressors alter neural circuit formation in males via impairing microglia function during development, perhaps via a gut-brain disruption.

About the Event

Presented by the BB&D Advisory Group and Administration, the Brain, Behaviour & Development (BB&D) Annual Research Day is held annually in the Fall. The annual event highlights accomplishments and advances from BB&D researchers and provides a forum to learn about various ongoing or developing projects and collaborations. The event also includes a keynote presentation given by an internationally renowned guest speaker.