Latest News


7.18.14 - A video of Professor Edward Hubbard's talk "Linking Education and Neuroscience" is now available from Wisconsin Public Television as part of their University Place series.


7.17.14 - The Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law at Baylor College of Medicine will launch The Journal of Science and Law. (Link to Journal) Read about issues at the intersection of law and neuroscience on the Initiative’s blog. (Link to Blog)


6.10.14 - UW-Madison News reported on the AAAS's Judicial Seminar on Emerging Issues in Neuroscience held recently at UW-Madison. (Link to Article)


5.30.14 - The AAAS will hold a Judicial Seminar on Emerging Issues in Neuroscience at UW-Madison at 9:00AM on June 2nd and 3rd in the Law School, Room 7200. (Link to Agenda)


4.24.14 - B.J. Casey, The Sackler Professor of Developmental Psychobiology at the Weill Medical College at Cornell University, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled Rewiring Juvenile Justice: The Intersection of Developmental Neuroscience and Legal Policy on May 9th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center). (Poster)


4.23.14 - Kent Kiehl, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Law at the University of New Mexico, will present a lecture titled "The Neuroscience of Psychopaths: Legal and Policy Implications." The Neuroscience Training Program will host the seminar on Thursday, May 8th at 4:00PM in the John D. Wiley Conference Center (T216, North Tower, Waisman Center). (Poster)


4.14.14 - A video of Promega CEO William Linton's talk "Biology, Business and the Brain" is now available from Wisconsin Public Television as part of their University Place series.


3.26.14 - Edward Hubbard, Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at UW-Madison, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled Linking Education and Neuroscience: The Foundations of a New Field on April 11th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center). (Poster)


3.10.14 - Videos of the Fall Semester N&PP Seminar Series are now available from Wisconsin Public Television as part of their University Place series:


2.21.14 - Chris Taylor, State of Wisconsin Assembly, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled Inside the Legislative Process on March 7th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center). (Poster)


2.21.14 - Articles of interest on ethical issues related to neuroscience. (Website)


2.11.14 - William Linton, CEO of Promega Corporation, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled Biology, Business, and the Brain on February 14th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center). (Poster)


12.27.13 - A Timeless Message for the New Year: Skip the Ad, Watch the Video, Make a Resolution. (Video)


11.26.13 - Richard Brown, Professor of Family Medicine in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and Director of the Wisconsin Initiative to Promote Healthy Lifestyles, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled Behavioral Screening and Intervention (BSI): An Evidence-Based, Cost-Saving, Essential Component of Healthcare Reform on December 6th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center). (Poster)


10.29.13 - Dietram Scheufele, John E. Ross Professor in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled A Brave New (Online) World: Emerging Technologies at the Intersection of Science, Policy, and Rapidly Changing Media Environments on November 15th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center). (Poster)


10.8.13 - The PBS series Frontline aired a documentary titled League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis. The film can be viewed in its entirely online. (Website)


9.25.13 - Jonathan D. Moreno, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor of Ethics in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century on October 18th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center). (Poster)


9.5.13 - Clark Miller, Associate Director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University, will deliver a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled Where Will We Take Ourselves with Neurotechnologies? on September 20th at 4:00PM in the Biotechnology Auditorium (Room 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center) (Poster)


8.30.13 - Briefing book materials are now available for download from The Future of Law and Neuroscience Conference held in Chicago on April 27, 2013. (Website)

8.27.13 - AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has extended the application deadline for the 2014-15 Fellowship year to November 1st, 2013. In addition, the Association has added a new Judicial Branch Fellowship Program aimed at contemporary policy issues facing the judiciary (see "Fellowship Areas"). (Website)


8.14.13 - On September 11th and 18th, PBS will present Brains on Trial, a special two-part broadcast exploring how neuroscience could impact our criminal justice system. (Website)


8.7.13 - The Neuroscience and Public Policy Program is pleased and honored to announce that The Kavli Foundation will support the Neuroscience and Public Policy Seminar. The Kavli Foundation is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work. The Foundation's support will advance the mission of the Seminar to close the current gap between science and society. (2013-2014 Seminar Series)


7.22.13 - Nature Reviews Neuroscience has begun a "Perspectives" series on neuroscience and the law. (Website)


5.23.13 - An essay on science and policy by a Neuroscience and Public Policy student has been posted on the Scientific American website. (Website)


5.13.13 - Jed Rakoff, United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York and Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia University, delivered a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled My Neurons Made Me Do It! -- How Neuroscience is Challenging Our Views of Legal and Moral Responsibility. Please check back in July for an update to this post. (Poster)


5.7.13 - The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in cooperation with the Dana Foundation has launched a new series on Neuroscience and Society. (Website)


4.19.13 - Louis Reichardt of the Neuroscience Program and Department of Physiology at UCSF spoke in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Seminar Series, delivering a lecture titled Current and Future Impacts of Neuroscience on the Law - Perspectives of a Neuroscientist: Challenges in Applying Discoveries in Genetics, Circuit Analysis & Brain Imaging to the Law. (Presentation PDF)


3.20.13 - An international conference on Law and Neuroscience will honor the contributions of Stephen J. Morse to the field. The conference will be held at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy on June 9th and 10th, 2013. (Conference Overview)


3.15.13 - Jay Giedd, Principal Investigator at NIMH and Johns Hopkins University, delivered a lecture in the N&PP Seminar Series titled The Teen Brain: Insights from Neuroimaging. (Presentation PDF)


1.29.13 - The First Annual Conference on the Governance of Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics will be held on May 20th and 21st, 2013 in Chandler, AZ. (Website)


1.23.13 - The Spring 2013 University Roundtable Series will kickoff with a presentation by Michael Koenigs and Joseph Newman titled Inside the Psychopathic Mind: What Brain Science is Revealing About Criminal Behavior on Wednesday, February 13th from 11:45-1:00 at Union South on the UW-Madison campus. (Website)


12.15.12 - Thomas Kalil of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy spoke in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Seminar Series, delivering a lecture titled Policy Entrepreneurship for Science, Technology, and Innovation. (Presentation PDF)


11.5.12 - The MacArthur Foundation will hold a one-day conference titled The Future of Law and Neuroscience on Saturday, April 27th, 2013 in Chicago, IL. (Website)


11.1.12 - Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga shares his views on moral responsibility and the brain in the current issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. (Article)


10.1.12 - The Union of Concerned Scientists has established a Center for Science and Democracy that shares the same values as those of the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program. (The Scientist Article)


9.26.12 - The Cleveland Clinic will host Brain Matters 3: Values at the Crossroads of Neurology, Psychiatry & Psychology on October 23rd-25th, 2012 in Cleveland, OH. The conference will foster further development in the field of neuroethics. (Website)


9.1.12 - Georgia State University launches a new interdisciplinary Neuroethics Program as part of the University's Second Century Initiative. (Website)


8.14.12 - A free online course on Neuroethics taught by Jonathan Moreno (University of Pennsylvania) and one on Drugs and the Brain by Henry Lester (Caltech) will be offered in the upcoming academic year by Coursera.


6.25.12 - The Supreme Court rules on mandatory life sentences for juveniles. (Article)


2.13.12 - Social neuroscience emerges. (Article)


1.9.12 - In the January 2012 issue of Student Lawyer, a publication of the American Bar Association, the cover article "Schools Respond to Shifts in Legal Landscape" comments on the Neuroscience and Law Program. (Article)


9.14.11 - Wisconsin's Capital Times reports on the Neuroscience and Law Program. (Article)

8.17.11 - Ronald Kalil and Pilar Ossorio discuss the Neuroscience and Law Program in an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio. (Audio File)


5.23.11 - The Neuroscience and Public Policy Program is pleased to announce an integrated dual degree program that offers students the opportunity to earn a J.D. degree in law and a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience. (More Information)


8.8.11 - The National Academy of Sciences new Science Ambassador Program and Scientists and Engineers for America are calling upon scientists to engage the public. (New York Times Article)


There is more news in the archive.

Welcome to the Neuroscience
& Public Policy Program


The University of Wisconsin-Madison established an integrated double degree program in Neuroscience and Public Policy in 2005. The Program is aimed at addressing an unfortunate truth; namely, that science policy and the law in the United States and elsewhere is frequently made by individuals who have little or no training in science, and, therefore, rely on scientists and engineers for advice, most of whom have little or no understanding of how public policy or the law is made. The result of this process is science policy and laws that often are not well conceived, frequently ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive. The Program, which is the only one of its kind in the country, is based on two strongly held beliefs: (1) that sound science and technology policy and law are essential for the well-being of societies; and (2) that a step toward ensuring such policy is to train future scientists in the making of public policy or the law and prepare them to participate in bringing science and society closer together.


Initially, the Program offered students the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience, which is granted by the Neuroscience Training Program, and a Master of Public Affairs (M.P.A.) degree, with an emphasis on domestic policy, which is awarded by the La Follette School of Public Affairs. The Program added a second double degree track in 2010 offering a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience and a Master of International Public Affairs (M.I.P.A.) degree that integrates neuroscience and international public policy. In 2011 the Program announced a J.D./Ph.D. dual degree track in law and neuroscience.


In each of the degree tracks, the Program brings together faculty from neuroscience, public policy, bioethics, sociology, and law to train research neuroscientists who will be qualified to help shape public policy or the law that should be informed by discovery in neuroscience. The cross-disciplinary training combines didactic and laboratory research training in neuroscience with a classroom-based and "hands on" education in public policy or the law.


Students in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program meet all of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree in neuroscience, which are set by the Neuroscience Training Program, those for the M.P.A. or the M.I.P.A. degree, which are determined by the La Follette School, or those for the J.D. degree as prescribed by the Law School. Neuroscience and Public Policy students also take the Neuroscience and Public Policy Seminar, which meets biweekly, during each of the years they are enrolled in the Program. The Seminar is a central element in the Program and challenges students to synthesize information that bridges neuroscience and public policy or the law, and to express this synthesis clearly in written critiques and oral presentations.


Regardless of which double or dual degree track is elected, the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program will engage students in an integrated sequence of coursework, seminars, laboratory rotations, and Ph.D. research. Students studying for the Ph.D. degree in neuroscience and a Master's degree in Public Affairs or International Public Affairs complete a core curriculum in molecular/cellular and systems neuroscience and a series of courses relevant to domestic or international public policy or both. Students who elect to earn degrees in neuroscience and in law complete the same course/research sequence in neuroscience that is required of neuroscience and public policy students. Neuroscience and law students also enroll in all of the required and elective courses to fulfill the requirements for the J.D. degree.


During the summer after the third or fourth academic year, all students complete an internship in an agency or institution involved with science policy. In addition to mastering research and policy/legal skills, students in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program will learn to work with policy makers or within the legal community to apply knowledge from research in neuroscience to shape public policy and the law, and also to communicate to the public research discoveries in neuroscience and their implications for society.


Advances in neuroscience have raised important questions in a wide range of policy issues, domestically and globally, such as those affecting neurotoxins and the environment, mental health, child development, cognitive enhancement, criminal responsibility, the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals or medical devices, and the ethics and regulation of emerging discoveries, e.g., those associated with stem cells and their applications. To effectively address these and other policy and legal issues, there is a clear need for neuroscientists who have been trained to think critically about issues at the intersection of neuroscience and public policy, or neuroscience and the law, and who and have appropriate skills, experience, and networks to work effectively in bridging both disciplines. It is the aim of the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program to train such neuroscientists.


If you believe that training neuroscientists who will be competent in shaping public policy and the law will benefit society, please consider making a gift to the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program by clicking here.


Thank you sincerely,


Ronald Kalil
rekalil@wisc.edu