Galileo's Science Café







Hear about the latest findings surrounding hot topics in science and medicine that affect our everyday lives and the decisions that we make! Bring your family and friends for a free, casual, interactive science discussion. Learn from the experts and speak with them personally.

Location: Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, Virginia

6:00PM: Doors open, food and beverages available
7:00PM-7:30PM: Scientific Discussion
7:30PM-7:45PM: Q&A
7:45PM-8:30PM: Meet the Scientist and Networking Reception

Stay tuned for the 2017/2018 Series Schedule!

 Program Sponsors: 



2016-2017 Series

September 8, 2016: "Everything you Need to Know About Concussions and Repetitive Head Traumas in Sports" by Dr. Shane Caswell     RSVP to attend

October 6, 2016: “Personalized Therapy: Offering New Hope for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients” by Dr. Mariaelena Pierobon     RSVP to attend

November 10, 2016: “The Mystery of Zika Virus” by Dr. Charles Bailey     RSVP to attend   

January 12, 2017: “Interfacing Brains to Electronics” by Dr. Nathalia Peixoto     RSVP to attend

February 9, 2017: “Cybersecurity: Sifting through Digital Trash for Fun, Profit, CIT Gap Funds       and to Catch the Bad Guys” by Dr. Jim Jones     RSVP to attend                       

March 2, 2017: “The New Horizons Mission to the Pluto-Charon Double Planet, BAE Systems               and Beyond” by Dr. Michael Summers     RSVP to attend      

April 6, 2017: "A Geographic Analysis: Individual Decisions to Vaccinate Impact the Entire Community" by Dr. Paul Delamater     RSVP to attend    

May 4, 2017: “Nanotechnology: A New Approach to Conquering Lyme Disease” by Dr. Alessandra Luchini     RSVP to attend                                                             

Galileo's Science Cafés

September 8, 2016
"Everything you Need to Know About Concussions and Repetitive Head Traumas in Sports"
Dr. Shane Caswell
Shane CaswellMore than one million children and adolescents in the U.S. are diagnosed with a concussion every year as a result of their participation in sports and recreational activities. Concussion, and repetitive head traumas have been widely reported in the media as serious public health concerns with potentially adverse long-term consequences. Participation in youth sports has numerous positive benefits but comes with inherent risks. Reducing the risk and severity of sports related head traumas recognizing the signs of brain trauma, and properly treating concussions are crucially important for children because of their developing brains. Misinformation exists and fuels fears regarding head injury in youth sports. The SMART Laboratory is conducting important research on concussion and repetitive head trauma among youth athletes to better understand how to reduce repetitive head traumas, improve diagnostic tools and optimally manage concussion recovery. I will review current best practices and discuss exciting scientific advances regarding head injuries in youth sports.

Ken HarveyKen Harvey, acknowledged as one of the Greatest Washington Redskins will kick-off the Galileo's Science Café!




October 6, 2016     RSVP to attend
“Personalized Therapy: Offering New Hope for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients”
Dr. Mariaelena Pierobon
Mariaelena PierobonPrecision medicine is transforming cancer therapy from a one-size-fits-all approach to customized patient treatment. Changes within DNA, RNA, and proteins are the underlying cause of cancer and such changes can vary widely across patient populations. By targeting the unique biochemistry of individual tumors, precision medicine provides personalized solutions for each patient.
The SideOut Foundation, a non-profit organization located in Fairfax VA, pioneered the field of personalized treatment for metastatic breast cancer by sponsoring a series of clinical trials in which data collected from each patient’s tumor is used to guide individual treatment selection. Nationwide breast cancer oncologists are working side-by-side with research scientists in the SideOut clinical study to identify genomic and proteomic alterations that are driving tumor growth in each individual patient. The physicians use the molecular information as a roadmap for treatment selection.
I will provide an overview of the SideOut Foundation sponsored trials, the role that our laboratory has played in the delivery of personalized therapy for metastatic breast cancer patients and the tremendous impact precision medicine has on cancer treatment and survival.

November 10, 2016     RSVP to attend
"The Mystery of Zika Virus"
Dr. Charles Bailey
Charles BaileyThe Zika virus is instilling fear in those who consider traveling to endemic areas such as South America, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Mexico. This is especially concerning to women who are pregnant or could be pregnant in the near future. While the virus causes only mild symptoms in most patients, it can lead to microcephaly and other debilitating brain and nervous system birth defects in fetuses. There is still a lot of information we do not know about the virus. I will discuss the history of Zika virus and will compare and contrast this virus with better characterized viruses such as dengue, yellow fever, West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses. The presentation will document the movement of this virus from Africa to Southeast Asia and eventually to the South American coast and into Central and North America.
I will discuss our plans to initiate a research program in collaboration with the University of Costa Rica and bring the audience up-to-date on the current epidemic situation in Costa Rica. I will also address the likelihood that mosquito transmission of Zika virus will take place in the continental United States.

January 12, 2017     RSVP to attend
"Interfacing Brains to Electronics"
Dr. Nathalia Peixoto
Nathalia PeixotoNew breakthroughs in computer-brain interfaces can revolutionize the way that disabled individuals can go about their everyday lives. Our ability to see, hear, move, and think is controlled by neurons in our body that communicate by transmitting electrical signals. Scientists are using the electrical properties of nerves, in conjunction with the power of modern computers, to develop computer-brain interface technologies. While this may sound like science fiction, our neural engineering laboratory is electrically stimulating and recording activity from neurons, developing retinal implants for blind people, and leveraging augmented reality to help people with disabilities.

February 9, 2017     RSVP to attend
"Cybersecurity: Sifting through Digital Trash for Fun, Profit, and to Catch the Bad Guys"
Dr. Jim Jones
Jim JonesWe are digital litterbugs. In both the cyber and physical worlds, we leave digital traces of our presence and actions everywhere, and not only on our own computers, thumb drives, and smart phones. We also leave these digital artifacts on other devices, sometimes with our knowledge, but frequently without. Computers you use, surveillance cameras, point-of-sale systems, automobiles, the Internet-of-Things, network devices, and more - all record digital information that tells a personal story about you. Some digital artifacts are intact, but the most interesting are not - just fragments of files and programs that someone or something tried to erase. I have spent the last 20 years collecting these digital artifacts and teasing out the stories that they tell - sometimes to catch a criminal, and sometimes just to recover family photos accidentally deleted. I will present some of our digital archeology stories and describe, how we are extracting, analyzing, and manipulating digital data and fragments from the world around us.

March 2, 2017     RSVP to attend
“The New Horizons Mission to the Pluto-Charon Double Planet, and Beyond”
Dr. Mike Summers
Mike SummersThe New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to the Pluto/Charon system on July 14, 2015. The entire world watched on TV, radio, and social media, as the flyby occurred. There has not been such public interest in space exploration since perhaps the Apollo missions to the Moon in the 1960s. The Pluto encounter was the capstone of an ambitious vision, begun by NASA 50 year ago, to explore the solar system with robotic spacecraft.
The observations and especially the images of Pluto and Charon returned by New Horizons were astonishing, and gave us some extraordinary surprises. Those surprises included a gigantic glacier, presumably made of nitrogen, methane, and possibly other ices, at Pluto’s equator. Another was the apparently “fresh” nature of the surfaces of both Pluto and Charon implying geological “young” ages for these objects. And yet another surprise was the global haze layer seen after the spacecraft’s closest approach and when it was looking back at Pluto. The atmosphere, backlit by the sun, gave Pluto a “halo” appearance.
Most importantly, the information from the encounter has opened up completely new questions about how planets form and evolve. In this talk I will review the latest results from the New Horizons mission and discuss what we can expect as the New Horizons spacecraft travels onward to its next flyby of another Dwarf Ice Planet.

April 6, 2017     RSVP to attend
"A Geographic Analysis: Individual Decisions to Vaccinate Impact the Entire Community"
Dr. Paul Delamater
Paul DelamaterDespite the demonstrated success of vaccination programs in eradicating diseases and improving public health, parental concerns over vaccine safety have led to increases in the refusal and/or delay of childhood vaccination throughout the United States. In some regions, the use of non-medical exemptions (NMEs) from school entry vaccination requirements has yielded extremely low levels of vaccination coverage. In these geographic clusters, the indirect protection afforded by the herd immunity effect is threatened, placing unvaccinated members of that population at risk of disease transmission and increasing the risk of a large-scale outbreak in the population. The increased use of NMEs has garnered a large amount of attention in the popular press and academic literature, as well as public policy forums across the US, due to the relationship between NMEs and disease outbreaks. Our research illustrates how Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are being used to analyze and understand how individual decisions regarding vaccination impact community-level vaccination coverage, the herd immunity effect, and disease outbreak risk.

May 4, 2017     RSVP to attend
“Nanotechnology: A New Approach to Conquering Lyme Disease”
Dr. Alessandra Luchini
Alessandra LuchiniLyme disease, transmitted by a tick bite, is an accelerating epidemic in Virginia. Unfortunately the fight against Lyme disease is severely hindered by the poor quality of existing diagnostic tests for Lyme. More than 3,000 conventional Lyme serology tests are performed per day in the USA. Fifty percent of patients who test negative may actually have the disease and are not treated if the physician follows standard guidelines. Patients with a missed diagnosis harbor Lyme bacteria, which can invade the brain, heart, joints, and other tissues causing tremendous suffering.
Our laboratory developed a highly specific and sensitive urine test for Lyme disease that can be used for diagnosis and determining whether a prescribed therapy has eliminated the infection. We created a special nanotechnology called the Nanotrap®, which is licensed to Ceres Nanosciences. The Nanotrap® technology enables us to achieve 1,000 times higher sensitivity than previous testing methods. We are testing for regions of the Lyme surface proteins that are absolutely specific for the Lyme bacteria and detect all species and strains. Our Lyme disease test is currently being used in a nationwide clinical study. We are also developing a tick panel test for other tick borne bacteria and viruses that infect patients.

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Contact Us

Amy Adams, Scientific Outreach and Education Program Manager, George Mason University
Phone: (703) 993-2672