October 15, 2010
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the most fascinating individuals in history. He is the creator of what are arguably the world’s two most famous paintings: the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. He was also a brilliant scientist and engineer; he made dozens of original anatomical discoveries (for example, he injected hot wax into an ox brain to demonstrate the shape of the ventricles), and he invented hundreds of devices (from ball bearings to a steam cannon). He pursued detailed investigations into brain anatomy and physiology with the goal of providing mechanistic explanations of how the brain interprets sensory input, and how the brain (and soul) processes and interprets that information. We will explore Leonardo’s remarkable life to try to understand the nature of his creativity and his integrative approach to the arts and sciences.
Dr. Jonathan Pevsner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and in the Department of Neurology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. He received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Haverford College, his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he received postdoctoral training at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Pevsner’s laboratory studies the molecular basis of childhood neurological disorders, including autism. He is the recipient of teaching awards, including the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Professor’s Award for Distinction in the Basic Sciences (2003) and Teacher of the Year (2001, 2006 and 2009). He wrote a textbook, Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics (2009). Dr. Pevsner harbors a passionate interest in the work of Leonardo. His personal collection includes some 700 books on him, he has written on Leonardo’s neuroscience, and he has recently served as a Leonardo expert on a Discovery Channel television show.