May 25, 2018


The event begins at 2:30pm.
Please view the schedule for more details.


Institute for Systems Biology
Main Floor Lobby
401 Terry Ave N, Seattle WA, 98109

Consilience Event


Awareness is at the heart of transformation.

ISB’s annual consilience event brings together two speakers who harness the power of awareness, integration and technological advancements to positively change the human experience.

Dr. Michael Merzenich’s pioneering research created a paradigmatic shift in our understanding of the human brain. Individuals have the ability to improve their cognition in shorter timescales than ever thought possible, and aging citizens can sustain cognitive function or even prevent cognitive decline. No longer must we passively accept that our brains deteriorate as we grow older, but rather the individual has the power to change his or her own brain health.

Chris Young’s vision for the kitchen has us imagining and partaking in a reality where the integration of disciplines can dramatically change an aspect of life as central to the human experience as eating. With an awareness of what’s technologically, computationally, chemically and biologically possible, we can more effectively take control over the way we experience and congregate around the archetypal and foundational principal of preparing and sharing food. Young offers a future where the perfect meal becomes a collaboration with all horizons in human, cultural and technological evolution.

We hope you will join us on Friday, May 25, for an afternoon of "food for thought" as we hear these two world-renowned speakers transform how we perceive ourselves and our habits, and bring awareness to the active role we play in shaping and sharing our future.


Consilience (\kən-ˈsil-yən(t)s\), or the integrating of disciplines to solve complex problems, is an initiative out of the Communications Department at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB).


Chris Young

Chris Young

Inventing the Future of the Kitchen by Teaching Machines the Art of Cooking

A time traveler from the 1940s would find the modern kitchen mostly recognizable, which is unfortunate given how central cooking and eating are to the human experience. Technology has improved so many other aspects of society that it's puzzling why the kitchen has been resistant to change. Indeed, popular trends in cooking represent a retreat to anachronistic techniques in the belief that the past has more to offer than the future. In his talk, Young will offer a more optimistic vision for the future of the kitchen that his company is pursuing; a future where cooking tools learn to adapt to our individual needs and preferences and make it easier to cook the perfect meal. He will share some of what his team has learned from the millions of meals their customers have cooked and how their algorithms are leveraging ideas from applied mathematics, statistics, physics, and chemistry to do something as seemingly simple as poaching an egg.

Chris Young

Chris Young is the CEO and co-founder of ChefSteps, the cooking technology company behind futuristic kitchen tools like the Joule sous vide circulator that are changing the way people cook. Prior to ChefSteps, Young was the principal co-author with Nathan Myhrvold of the acclaimed six-volume work Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. He was also the founding chef of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, the secret culinary laboratory behind the innovative dishes served at one of the best restaurants in the world. Before he became a chef and a technologist, he completed degrees in theoretical mathematics and biochemistry at the University of Washington.

Michael Merzenich

Michael Merzenich, PhD

New Strategies for Managing Organic Brain Health

Stronger Brains in Older Citizens

Studies conducted over the past several decades have richly documented the neurological processes that govern life-long brain remodeling. Those studies have revealed, in progressively greater detail, how different patterns of brain engagement impact both human performance, and organic brain health. We’ve applied this science to develop new strategies that support inexpensive recursively-deployable indices of organic brain health, and to create a therapeutic computerized toolset designed to strengthen, then sustain organic brain health—also manifested by stronger behavioral ability. Merzenich shall describe these evolving brain health management strategies and review the important implications they bear for your personal health and welfare, and for evolving brain-medicine practices.

Michael Merzenich, PhD

Michael Merzenich is a UCSF professor emeritus whose neuroscience-directed research has focused on resolving the fundamental nature of plasticity in the child and adult brain, then on the development of practical strategies designed to deploy this life-long capacity for brain change for the practical and medical benefit of children and adults with neurological impairments and disease. Nearly 9 million children and adults have benefited from the use of the intensive computer-based training programs created by his research teams at UCSF and at the research companies that he has founded (Scientific Learning; Posit Science).

A primary goal at those companies has been the evolution of strategies for more effectively managing and stabilizing organic brain health, all across the human lifespan. A more specific focus has been directed toward the prevention and treatment of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases; on the neurological restoration of function in patients with physical and hemorrhagic brain injury, and by poisons and infections; and on improving the cognitive performance abilities in children and adults struggling with many brain-associated developmental and acquired disorders.


About the Imagery

Images of the human brain on this website are courtesy of Thomas Schultz and created using diffusion tensor imaging; a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to measure the diffusion of water in brain tissue. This provides an image of the tracts and fibers of the brain, and thus allows for a greater understanding of the connections between different brain regions.
Composite photographs on this website of high-speed captures of the transformation of a kernel into a popcorn are courtesy Modernist Cuisine.


Friday, May 25
  • Mixing and Mingling

    2:30 PM

    For the first 30 minutes of the program, participants will mix and mingle over light refreshments and digital content on the topic of Exploring Plasticity.

  • Lee Hood gives welcoming remarks and introduces the concept of Consilience

    3:00 PM

    Lee Hood, MD, PhD is Co-founder of Institute for Systems Biology & Chief Science Officer of Providence St. Joseph Health.

  • Chris Young presents his talk titled "Inventing the Future of the Kitchen by Teaching Machines the Art of Cooking"

    3:15 PM

    Followed by Q & A

  • Dr. Michael Merzenich presents his talk titled "Stronger Brains in Older Citizens: New Strategies for Managing Organic Brain Health"

    4:00 PMFollowed by Q & A

  • Allison Kudla gives closing remarks and event wrap-up

    4:45 PM

    Allison Kudla, PhD is Associate Director of Communications for Institute for Systems Biology

Courtesy Thomas Schultz


The event is free and open to the public, however as a nonprofit we rely on generosity from our community to continue, deepen and grow programs like this one. We hope you will contribute and, in doing so, further integrative initiatives like this at ISB. Seating is limited. Please register now.

About ISB

The Institute for Systems Biology is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) biomedical research organization based in Seattle, Washington. It was founded in 2000 by systems biologist Leroy Hood, immunologist Alan Aderem, and protein chemist Ruedi Aebersold. ISB was established on the belief that the conventional models for exploring and funding breakthrough science have not caught up with the real potential of what is possible today. ISB serves as the ultimate environment where scientific collaboration stretches across disciplines and across academic and industrial organizations, where our researchers have the intellectual freedom to challenge the status quo, and where grand visions for breakthroughs in human health inspire a collective drive to achieve the seemingly impossible. Our core values ensure that we always keep our focus on the big ideas that eventually will have the largest impact on human health. ISB is an affiliate of Providence St. Joseph Health.