Open Mind, a Community Lecture and Film Series and Special Events 2015

The Road Within

Open Mind Film Screening

December 1, 2015

The Friends screened The Road Within, the story of a young man with Tourette’s Syndrome, who just lost his mother. Aided by a rebellious anorexic and a withdrawn OCD roomate, the three embark on a life-changing race to the sea that includes car theft, shiplifing, fights, self-discovery, and maybe finding a new way to live. The film starred Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel, Zoe Kravitz, Kyra Sedgwick, and Robert Patrick. The director of The Road Within, Gren Wells and producer, Michael Helfant  joined Semel Institute doctors, Andrew Leuchter, MD, Jamie Feusner, MD, John Piacentini, PhD, and Michael Strober, PhD, in post-screening discussion.

The Well-Tuned Brain

Open Mind Lecture

November 16, 2015

Renowned author and Director of the Semel Institute, Dr. Peter Whybrow discussed his book, The Well-Tuned Brain. In this optimistic and inspiring book, Dr. Whybrow, the prize-winning author of A Mood Apart and American Mania, offers a prescription for genuine human progress. He poses such questions as: If in the face of the seductive opportunities of the consumer society, is passion again outrunning reason? Have we lost the capacity for self-command and with it a balanced understanding of ourselves?

Dr. Michael S. Gazzaniga

Open Mind Lecture

Dr. Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the most important neuroscientists of the twentieth century, spoke about his  book, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience. One of the founders of the field of cognitive neuroscience, Dr. Gazzaniga recounted his decade long journey to understand how the separate spheres of our brains communicate and miscommunicate with their separate agendas. Dr. Gazzaniga is a Professor of Psychology at UC Santa Barbara and the Director of UCSB's SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind. He serves as the president of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute and is also the founding director of the MacArthur Foundation's Law and Neuroscience Project. Dr. Gazzaniga has written numerous books for the lay public including The Social Brain, Mind Matters, Nature's Mind, Who’s In Charge, and What Makes Us Human.

Past Events by year

Chancellor Block congratulated the five scholars:  Michelle Rozenman, Ph.D., April Thames, Ph.D., Yvonne Yang, MD, PhD, Eliza Congden, Ph.D. and Nanthia Sulthana, Ph.D.   Dr. Kelsey Martin, the Executive Vice Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA,  told the audience that she was especially proud that all five scholars this year were women.  Dr. Andrew Leuchter, faculty advisor to The Friends, introduced each scholar and spoke briefly about their field of research. On behalf of all the scholars, Dr. Yvonne Yang, the recipient of the Chancellor Gene Block Scholar Award, expressed her gratitude to The Friends for supporting young investigators and giving them the opportunity to establish themselves as primary researchers in their chosen field. 


Each Friends Scholar receives a two -year grant of up to $50,000 per year to support their groundbreaking research. This is a highly competitive award and each year we receive many more applications from postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members than we have available funding for. A panel of esteemed Semel Institute faculty and Friends of Semel Board members evaluates each proposed study and the finalists are interviewed. After completing the selection process, our only regret is that were not able to support more scholars grants.

Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D

Open Mind Film Screening

October 6,  2015

Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, is a leader in the field of developmental psychopathology and one of the foremost experts on ADHD in the country.  Hinshaw is currently the editor of the highly regarded Psychological Bulletin and a renowned author of seven books, including The ADHD Explosion and The Triple Bind: Saving our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures. Dr. Hinshaw spoke about the stigma of mental illness: personal, family, and policy perspectives.

Walking Man

Open Mind Film Screening

September 9,  2015

The Friends screened Walking Man,  an honest look at one family's journey with mental illness. After a Missouri high school loses three students to suicide, Mark Norwine (a mental health advocate) embarks on a 200-mile walk across the state, seeking to educate students and better understand the epidemic for himself. Mark is joined by his son, Eric, but when the road proves difficult, father and son must confront their own mental health struggles, which they've kept secret for so long.

Mania Days

Open Mind Film Screening

June 22,  2015

Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby play a pair of New Yorkers suffering from bipolar disorder in Paul Dalio's Mania Days, but each character has a little bit of Dalio himself in their bones. Dalio wrote, directed, edited and scored his debut feature, which deals with many of the issues he tackled while trying to find a balance with his own bipolar disorder.

Art and Craft

Open Mind Film Screening

May 29,  2015

Art and Craft tells the story of Mark Landis, one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. Diagnosed as a teenager with schizophrenia and multiple behavioral disorders in the 1970's, Landis had endured a lifetime of marginalization as a person living with mental illness and his elaborate thirty-year forgery con became a means to change all that, allowing him to regain control and finally be given respect. After the screening, the film’s director, Sam Cullman joined Dr. Stephen Marder and Dr. Andrew Leuchter in discussion.

Great Minds Gala

April 19,  2015

Hundreds of guests of the Friends of the Semel Institute gathered at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on April 19 for the Great Minds Gala, which raised more than $1 million for the Friends Scholar Program, which supports the research of young scientists at the Semel Institute working to develop innovative treatments for mental and neurological disorders.

Dr. David Miklowitz

Open Mind Lecture

March 3,  2015

Dr. David Miklowitz is  director of the Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program at UCLA’s Semel Institute. He is the author of The Bipolar Survival Guide and The Bipolar Teen, and recently co-authored The Clinicians Guide to Bipolar Disorder with Dr. Michael Gitlin. Dr. Miklowitz discussed the signs of mood disorders in children and teens and talked about how we can distinguish them from other common psychiatric conditions such as ADHD and anxiety disorders. He was joined in discussion by Dr. Peter Whybrow.


Glen Campbell, I'll Be Me

Open Mind Film Screening

February 10, 2015

The Friends screened "Glen Campbell - I'll Be Me". The film documents an amazing journey as he and his family attempt to navigate the wildly
unpredictable nature of Glen’s progressing Alzheimer's disease using love, laughter, and music as their medicine of choice. A discussion with director James Keach followed the screening.

Ron Suskind

Open Mind Lecture

February 3, 2015

Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind dicussed his newest book, Life, Animated, that chronicles his son Owen’s struggle with autism and the way in which the family used Owen’s affinity for Disney to connect with him. UCLA Drs. Daniel Geschwind and Shafali Spurling Jeste joined Mr. Suskind in discussion.

Rocks in My Pockets

Open Mind Film Screening

January 12, 2015

In the animated film Rocks in My Pockets, Latvian-born artist and filmmaker Signe Baumane tells five fantastical tales based on the courageous women in her family and their battles with mental illness. With boundless imagination and a twisted sense of humor, she has created daring stories of art, romance, marriage, nature, business, and Eastern European upheaval—all in the fight for her own sanity. After the screening, director Signe Baumane discussed the film with Dr. Peter Whybrow of the Semel Institute.