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Ben Rein

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Ben Rein, PhD is a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University.[1], where he studies the neural basis of empathy and the effects of drugs such as MDMA on social connection[2]. Rein's previous research focused on autism spectrum disorder and identified key systems in the brain that regulate social behavior[3]. He has authored 17 peer-reviewed scientific papers [4] and received research honors from various organizations including the NIH, the Society for Neuroscience, and Sigma Xi.

In addition to his research, Rein is a science communicator with a significant following on TikTok [5], Instagram [6], and BiliBili [7]. Through these channels, he posts educational science videos where he summarizes research papers, teaches neuroscience basics, and debunks scientific misinformation.

Rein has received numerous honors and awards including the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Truth Decay Grant in 2023 and the Stanford University Postdoc Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity (JEDI) Champion Award [8] in 2022. He was a finalist for the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science in 2022[9] and won the BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition held by the Mind Science Foundation in 2021[10]. Rein's dissertation research received the Deans Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research and the Beverly P. Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Neuroscience Doctoral Thesis Award from SUNY Buffalo in 2021[11] . Rein also won SUNY Buffalo's 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in 2020[12].

Science Communication[edit]

Rein reportedly began engaging in science communication on social media after a video he posted unexpectedly went viral[13]. He then began posting more frequently, recognizing social media as a powerful tool for connecting the public with science [14]. He has gained over 900,000 social media subscribers across TikTok, Instagram, and BiliBili.

Rein is known for making complex scientific topics clear and accessible to a broad audience, and for debunking videos from other social media users containing misinformation. His videos have been featured in Good Morning America[15], the New York Post[16], and ABC News[17] among other sites. In 2022, he published a story in the scientific journal Cell about the power of social media as a tool for challenging misinformation [18].

Rein has appeared on more than 25 podcasts and shows including The Max Planck Society's "The Offspring" podcast [19] and Knowing Neurons[20]. He has been profiled by Spectrum News[21], partnered with Popular Mechanics for a series of educational articles[22] [23] [24], and served as a neuroscience consultant for Entertainment Tonight [25] and Medical News Today [26]

Public Speaking[edit]

Rein has given a number of presentations and workshops to a diverse range of audiences, including scientific lectures, workshops, and presentations for student groups.

Dr. Rein has been invited to speak at a number of prestigious scientific conferences and events. In 2023, he spoke at the Stanford Health Care Interventional Platform, the Psychedelics as Medicine Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, and participated as a panelist for "SciComm Through Soundwaves" at ComSciCon Atlanta. In 2022, Dr. Rein gave lectures at the University of San Diego, the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, TX, the Neuroscience & Yoga Conference NYC online conference, and led a webinar for WSKG Science Pub.

Dr. Rein has also developed and led workshops on how to effectively communicate scientific research to lay audiences. He has given these workshops at several universities, including Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Minnesota Graduate School.


Ben Rein, PhD received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in February 2021. He was a Presidential Fellow and received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research[27]. His research focused on the synaptic and molecular mechanisms in 16p11.2 copy number variations and the advancement of behavioral assays for sociability in mice. Dr. Rein was advised by SUNY Distinguished Professor Dr. Zhen Yan.

Prior to his doctoral studies, Dr. Rein earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Biology from West Virginia University (WVU) in 2016. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and was a Presidential Honors Scholar and received Phi Beta Kappa honors. He was also awarded the Quin Curtis Award for the Outstanding Undergraduate Student by the WVU Psychology Department that same year. His thesis, advised by Dr. Daniel McNeil, was titled "Evaluation of an Avatar-Based Training Program to Promote Neuroscience Education" and received the Robert F. Munn Award for the Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis[28]


Dr. Rein's research covers a variety of topics, including the neuroscience of empathy, genetics and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), modeling social behavior in mice, and social media and misinformation. In his current research, Dr. Rein is investigating the brain systems that underlie empathy through behavioral studies in mice. Dr. Rein's past research on genetics and ASD focused on how certain autism-linked gene mutations affect brain function, specifically in the prefrontal cortex, an area important for sociability and social cognition. Dr. Rein has also contributed to the development of several behavioral tests for testing social behavior in mice.

One area of Dr. Rein's research involves the study of copy number variations (CNVs) in the 16p11.2 region of the genome. CNVs in this region have been associated with a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD. In a study published in Molecular Psychiatry, Dr. Rein and colleagues showed that restoring the function of the GABA synapse regulator Npas4 could reverse synaptic and behavioral deficits in a mouse model of 16p11.2 duplication.

In addition to his neuroscience research, Rein has studied the use of social media for science communication. He has investigated the use of TikTok for public engagement with science, analyzing in-app video metrics to better understand how to leverage social media for science communication.


  1. "Stanford University".
  2. "#WeAreStanfordMed". YouTube.
  3. "Ben Rein's Website)".
  4. "Ben Rein Google Scholar".
  5. "@Dr.Brein TikTok".
  6. "@Doctor.Brein Instagram".
  7. "BiliBili".
  8. "Meet the Stanford JEDI Champions".
  9. "AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science".
  10. "Startups San Antonio". 21 October 2021.
  11. "Yan's Former Researchers Thriving in New Positions".
  12. "3MT Rein". YouTube.
  13. "Knowing Neurons Podcast".
  14. "#WeAreStanfordMed". YouTube.
  15. "Good Morning America".
  16. "New York Post". 27 October 2021.
  17. "ABC News". ABC News.
  18. "Harnessing social media to challenge scientific misinformation".
  19. "The Offspring".
  20. "Knowing Neurons Podcast".
  21. "The autism researcher firing up TikTok". 8 March 2022.
  22. "3 Astonishing Brain Facts That Will Blow Your Mind, According to a Neuroscientist". 29 November 2022.
  23. "Why Some People Conjure Terrifying Sleep Paralysis Demons, According to a Neuroscientist". 17 October 2022.
  24. "Your Dreams May Be Practice for Real Life, According to a Neuroscientist". 6 October 2022.
  25. "Entertainment Tonight".
  26. "Medical News Today". 10 September 2022.
  27. "Yan's Former Researchers Thriving in New Positions".
  28. "Munn Scholars".

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