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A Molecule away from Madness

A Molecule away from Madness

Sara Manning Peskin, MD, MS with Jennifer Kruse, MD
Thursday, October 12, 2023 (virtual)
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PDT

A Molecule Away from Madness – Tales of the Hijacked Brain is an unputdownable journey into the deepest mysteries of our brains that are the most complex machines known to humankind. But they have an Achilles heel: the very molecules that allow us to exist can also sabotage our minds. In A Molecule Away from Madness, Dr. Sara Manning Peskin shares gripping accounts of unruly molecules and the diseases that form in their wake.

A college student cannot remember if she has eaten breakfast. By dinner, she is strapped to a hospital bed, convinced she is battling zombies. A man planning to propose marriage instead becomes violently enraged, gripped by body spasms so severe that he nearly bites off his own tongue. One after another, poor farmers in South Carolina drop dead from a mysterious epidemic of dementia.

With an intoxicating blend of history and intrigue, Dr. Manning Peskin invites readers to play medical detective, tracing each diagnosis from the patient to an ailing nervous system. Along the way, Dr. Peskin entertains with tales of the sometimes outlandish, often criticized, and forever devoted scientists who discovered it all.


Dr. Peskin  never loses sight of the human impact of these conditions. Alzheimer’s Disease is more than the gradual loss of a loved one; it can be a family’s multigenerational curse. The proteins that abound in every cell of our bodies are not simply strings of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon; they are the building blocks of our personalities and relationships. 

Sara Manning Peskin, MD, MS, is an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude prior to moving to Philadelphia. She attended medical school and received a master’s degree in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also completed her neurology residency and a fellowship in cognitive and behavioral neurology. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Boston Globe Magazine, among other publications.

Jennifer Kruse, MD will join Dr. Peskin in conversation. Dr. Jennifer Kruse is a Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and founding director of the UCLA Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry fellowship program. She has clinical expertise and interest in mood disorders, especially in the setting of co-morbid medical illness. She is a physician scientist with NIH funding to study the role of inflammation in mood disorders and depression treatment outcomes.  She completed medical school and fellowship training at Mayo Clinic, and she completed her psychiatry residency training at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. In addition, she’s completed post-doctoral research training in psychoneuroimmunology, clinical pharmacology, and translational science. Her clinical research focuses on links between immune function, metabolic function, depression symptoms, and depression treatment outcome, with long-term goals focused on improving depression treatment by translating findings into targeted and personalized treatment approaches.

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