• Jessie Xiaoya Ma

BCLA's Annual Healthcare Symposium: Advances in Mental Health Care


Biotech Connection Los Angeles (BCLA) proudly hosted our annual Healthcare Symposium on the topic of Advances in Mental Health Care on Thursday, May 27th, 2021 virtually over Zoom. We had about 100 participants from all over the country. With the mind-blowing keynote address and engaging conversations among panelists as well as audience members, our event was a great success.


This year, we discussed mental health care - a subject that is at the root of many societal issues, and yet is often neglected. We’re now over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and we find ourselves in the midst of a mental health crisis. According to a report by the CDC, the number of US citizens suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression has nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic. We kicked off the event with a fireside chat with Bryan Johnson. Bryan is the founder and CEO of Kernel, which has built two next-generation, non-invasive brain interfaces. He was also the founder and CEO of Braintree Venmo as well as OS Fund, where he invested in the predictable engineering of atoms, molecules, and organisms. Our event was moderated by the amazing Charlotte Cramer, who is the head of marketing at Coa, your gym for mental health, and author of the #1 bestselling book "The Purpose Myth”. She is also an MSc candidate in Neuroscience at King's College London.


After creating Braintree Venmo, Bryan had asked himself: “What is the one thing that will create the highest value for the human race?” In an eye-opening discussion, Bryan pointed out that the brain has always been a blindspot for us. A cardiologist can assess heart-health by means of measurable data, but the same can not be done for the mind. If we could find a way to systematically quantify brain activity, then our minds enter a formal discipline of engineering, offering a robust path for us to think about levelling up as a species. We want to thank Bryan for joining us and offering insights into his work with Kernel, as well as sharing how this journey has impacted him personally.


Following the exciting keynote, we were joined by a strong panel of experts to discuss progress and developments in neuroscience, psychology, drug discovery, and technology towards mental health care. We were joined by Ronan Levy, Co-founder of Field Trip Health, the global leader in the development and delivery of psychedelic therapies. Also with us was Dr. Raghu Appasani, a social entrepreneur focused on bridging the gap between western and eastern practices and the founder & CEO of the MINDS Foundation, a mental health nonprofit. The panel was completed by Dr. Jyoti Mishra, Founder of the Neural Engineering & Translation Labs at UCSD, where she innovates digital technologies for scalable brain health mapping, monitoring and precision therapeutics. The session was engaging and informative as the panelists discussed the basic needs of mental health care and how their various experiences are leading towards a more hopeful and healthier future for the individual.


Our mental health is equally as important as our physical health: it includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health dictates how we think, feel, and act and it also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Our symposium touched on mental health awareness, extraterrestrial life, stress in daily life and various ways of keeping mental hygiene, always coming back to our strong, powerful, and mysterious brain. Again we thank our amazing keynote, moderator, panelists and audience for an evening of insightful discussions! If you missed the event, you can find a full recording here!


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