Upcoming Events

Date Event Speaker(s)
Sept. 27, 2017 The Autism Specturm Disorder: Latest Research and Treatment of Autism Dr. Luigi Mazzone &
Dr. Kevin Pelphrey
Oct. 26, 2017 The Garbage Patch State: Ocean Plastics Pollution Maria Cristina Finucci &
Laura Parker
Nov. 15, 2017 Nutrition & Health  


The Autism Spectrum Disorder: Latest Research and Treatment of Autism

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.
Intercultural Center Auditorium, Georgetown University
3700 O Street NW Washington, DC 20057

The Georgetown University Italian Research Institute, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute, is pleased to sponsor a conference on cutting-edge research on the autism spectrum disorder led by internationally renowned neuroscientists.


Luigi Mazzone

    Dr. Luigi Mazzone, Neuropsychiatrist
    Division of Child Psychiatry at
    The University of tor vergata, rome, Italy

Luigi Mazzone (M.D.) received his Ph.D. degree in pediatric science from the University of Catania, Italy. After obtaining the Ph.D. degree, he completed two postdoctoral programs abroad.The first one, from September 2005 until September 2006, was a postdoctoral visiting fellowship at the intramural program of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in Bethesda, MD.  After that, in September 2006, he was awarded the “Alexander Bodini” Fellowship at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University.  The fellowship offered him the opportunity to complete his second postdoctoral experience, which lasted from October 2006 until September 2009, at the Pediatric Brain Imaging Laboratory at Columbia University in New York.  

At NIMH and at Columbia University, by using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the aim of Dr. Mazzone’s  research was to gain a better understanding of the neurobiological substrates underlying psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and Tourette Syndrome. He is currently working at the Division of Child Psychiatry at the  University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.

"Drug Treatments for Core Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Unmet Needs and Future Directions"


Pharmacological treatments for core symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are still lacking. The clinical heterogeneity observed in this population (e.g., differences in cognitive functioning or in autism symptom severity) should be taken into account when a new drug is tested.  Stratifying this population according to its neurobiological substrate could significantly improve our knowledge regarding the most appropriate pharmacological treatment for individual needs.  We will discuss the possible genetic and biological pathways, including the Glutamatergic, GABAergic, and mTOR systems, involved in the pathophysiology of autism, as well as the mechanisms that may be targeted by new drug interventions.  We will also describe the current progress from the preclinical and clinical studies on some potential therapeutic options for ASD core symptoms.

Luigi Mazzone

    Dr. Kevin Pelphrey, Carbonell Family Professor &
    Director, Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders
    institute, George Washington University &
    Children's national MEdical Center


Dr. Kevin Pelphrey is the Carbonell Family Professor and Director of the Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute at George Washington University (GW) and Children’s National Health System (CNHS) in Washington, DC and Virginia. The Institute serves as a focal point for translational research and comprehensive clinical services for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Pelphrey’s program of research investigates the brain basis of neurodevelopmental disorders to develop biologically-based tools for detection, prediction, and individually tailored treatments. Using multimodal neuroimaging, his team has identified the neural circuitry supporting the representation of social cues, including auditory, visual and tactile social signals, as well as neurocomputational mechanisms for social learning. They have applied the knowledge generated from these studies to understanding the predictors of response and neural mechanisms supporting improvements in social learning and social communication in children, adolescents and adults with autism receiving behavioral treatments, pharmacological interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and virtual reality mediated “telemedicine” CBT.

Dr. Pelphrey is the Principal Investigator of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Autism Center of Excellence Multimodal Developmental Neurogenetics of Females with Autism National Network that spans GW/CNHS, Yale, University of California Los Angeles, University of California San Francisco, University of Southern California, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This Network has generated a shared national treasure consisting of comprehensive, gene-brain- behavior data from large and diverse cohorts of young women and men with ASD. They are now following these young people as they transition through adolescence and into young adulthood. Dr. Pelphrey’s scientific contributions have been recognized by receipt of a Scientist Career Development Award from the NIH, a John Merck Scholars Award, and the American Psychological Association's Boyd McCandless Award for distinguished early career theoretical contributions to Developmental Psychology. He is the father of two children on the autism spectrum and is a public member of the Federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.

"Toward Precision Medicine for Autism(s)"


Humans are deeply social creatures. We have existed for millennia in highly collective environments in which each individual depends upon others as well as larger social entities, such as family and kin, peers and neighbors, institutions and society. Social cognition, broadly construed, is the term we use to reference the fundamental abilities to perceive, categorize, remember, analyze, reason with, and behave toward other conspecifics. The extent to which such processes work successfully contributed to the fate of individual humans in the past and continues to do so today. In this talk, I will describe our research using brain imaging, computational modeling, and molecular genetics to identify neurobiological mechanisms for social cognition in typically developing people and the disruption of these mechanisms in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Our work has served to characterize the functional properties and development—from infancy to adulthood—of a network of neuroanatomical structures dedicated to processing social meaning. In turn, this greater understanding of the normative developmental trajectory of social cognition has permitted efforts to identify the brain basis of social cognition dysfunction in people living with ASD. This knowledge has allowed us to develop more effective, targeted interventions for social-communication dysfunction in ASD. I will focus on the recent development of biologically-based tools for detection, prediction, and individually tailored treatments for ASD. We have used these biomarkers to understand the predictors of response and neural mechanisms supporting improvements in social learning and social communication in people with ASD receiving behavioral treatments, pharmacological interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and virtual reality mediated “telemedicine” CBT.


The Garbage Patch State: Ocean Plastics Pollution

Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.
Intercultural Center Auditorium, Georgetown University
3700 O Street NW Washington, DC 20057

The Georgetown University Italian Research Institute, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute, is pleased to sponsor a conference dedicated to raising awareness of the environmental harmful impact of plastic pollution in our oceans and to the global marine ecosystem.


Luigi Mazzone

    Maria Cristina Finucci, Architect & Artist
    Founder of "the garbage patch state"

Maria Cristina Finucci, born in Lucca, Italy, in 1956, is an artist, designer and architect who graduated in Architecture at the University of Florence University with honors.  She has lived and worked in Moscow, New York, Paris, Brussels, Madrid, and Rome where she currently lives.  Her work has been published in books and magazines. She has also collaborated as a foreign correspondent to the Architecture magazine, Controspazio. From a very young age her artistic research has led her to experiment many forms of art including painting, sculpture, architecture, design, video art, and film post-production which was the subject of a personal exhibition at the Lucca museum in 2010.  In 2011 she produced the work Trueman, inspired by the movie The Truman Show and also the video Living Restraint. Finucci investigates the conception of time and space according to the quantum physics recent research and its philosophical implications.


She is currently working on a Transmedia project entitled Wasteland.  This work, which includes all the actions of the Garbage Patch State, a State founded by her, is not only her personal response to an ethical commitment to protect the environment, but is also an innovative art form in tune with the monumental changes that we are witnessing today.

Wasteland began its journey in Paris under the patronage of UNESCO, then moved to Venice, to the ARCO international Art Fair in Madrid, to Rome, at the MAXXI Museum, to the UN building in NYC, to the EXPO 2015 in Milan to the Fondazione Bracco and continued to Venice for the “Blue Med High Level Conference” and Paris during the Cop 21 in collaboration with the New York Times. In September 2016 Finucci created a monumental installation in the Isle of Mozia (Sicily). She is currently working at two major exhibitions for 2018 : “OCEANUS, How Art Helps the Planet” also featuring works of Joseph Beuys ad Jason Taylor and a solo exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA).

Her artworks now belongs to several private collections and Institutions such as the Italian Parliament permanent collection. The International press has widely covered and positively reviewed her work. In 2014 Maria Cristina Finucci received in Italy the “Golden Apple” of the 26th edition of the Bellisario Prize and the "Civiltà dell’Acqua" Prize. Mother of four, Cristina is married to an Italian diplomat, Pietro Sebastiani currently Ambassador to the Holy See.

"The Garbage Patch State"


Maria Cristina Finucci will show, with numerous images, all the “actions” of THE GARBAGE PATCH STATE, the new Federal State she founded at the Paris UNESCO in 2013 to create awareness about the critical problem of plastic choking our Oceans.  Through art she is addressing this previously unknown phenomenon.  In just five years she has provided visibility to the plastic pollution in our oceans through her monumental installations placed in strategic locations around the world.  These exhibits have attracted positive artistic reviews as well as increasing understanding about this serious environmental issue.

Each of her exhibit, such as the one at the UN in New York or at the Paris COP 21, just to name a few, has communicated in an artistic language, understandable to everyone, an image mostly, unknown to many, of the invisible, and therefore neglected, plastic pollution of the Oceans.  She has worked alone in creating, through a transmedia narration, visionary displays that have connected with and convinced many people.  Through her unique, joyful and ironic artwork, which has avoided the usual frightening and appalling images, she has stimulated curiosity and raised awareness to a critical topic that is confronting the ocean ecosystem.

Here is a synthesis of her project that she entitled Wasteland whose images she will show and discuss:

2013 – Paris. Official declaration of the Garbage Patch state in front of the UNESCO Director General 
2013 – Venice. Creation of the National Pavilion of the Garbage Patch State at the Biennale
2014 – Madrid. Installation on the Gran Via
2014 – Rome. MAXXI MUSEUM . Creation of the first Embassy of the Garbage Patch State
2015 – New York. Installation at the UN Secretariat Building during the General Assembly environment week
2015 – Milano . Expo 2015 Installation
2015 – Paris. Cop 21 Installation
2015 – Venice. Aquamed Mediterranean Ministerial High Level Conference
2016 – Isle of Mozia, Italy, installation HELP the next works  for 2018
ROME - HELP on the Fori Imperiali Archeological site near the Colosseum
MOSCOW – a site specific gigantic work at the MMOMA

Her future goal is to stimulate global action through popular support.  This action will include promulgating the requisite global, national, and local laws as well as raising the necessary funds for program implementation that will ensure that plastics are cleaned from coasts before reaching the oceans.  Just as important, she hopes through education these projects will provide global citizens the visual means to recognize the public good achieved when we reduce and reuse plastics. 


Luigi Mazzone

    Laura Parker
    Senior staff writer
    National geographic, Washington dc

Bio coming soon.





Luigi Mazzone

    Dr. John McNeill
    University Professor, School of Foreign Service
    Georgetown university

J.R. McNeill has held two Fulbright awards, fellowships from Guggenheim, MacArthur, and the Woodrow Wilson Center.   His books include The Mountains of the Mediterranean (1992); Something New Under the Sun (2000), winner of two prizes, listed by the London Times among the 10 best science books ever written (despite not being a science book), and translated into 9 languages; The Human Web (2003), translated into 7 languages; and Mosquito Empires (2010), which won the Beveridge Prize from the AHA; and The Great Acceleration (2016).  In 2010 he was awarded the Toynbee Prize for ‘academic and public contributions to humanity.’

His research is in the area of environmental history.



Nutrition & Health

Wednesday, November 15th at 6:30 p.m.
Intercultural Center Auditorium, Georgetown University
3700 O Street NW Washington, DC 20057

More info coming soon.