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A mitochondrial etiology of metabolic and degenerative diseases, cancer and aging

April 2, 2014
Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D., The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

For half a millennium Western medicine has focused on anatomy and for the past century on nuclear DNA (nDNA), Mendelian, genetics. While these concepts have permitted many biomedical advances, they have proven insufficient for understanding the common “complex” diseases. Life requires energy, 90 percent of which comes from the mitochondrion. The mitochondrial genome consists of thousands of copies of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) plus 1,000–2,000 nDNA genes.

Genome maintenance up close and personal: eavesdropping on single molecular conversations

April 9, 2014
Raju S. Kucherlapati, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

The understanding of the genetics and genomics of cancer is changing very rapidly. The ability to use next-generation sequencing technologies to dissect the genomes of individual cancer patients is helping to drive this increase in knowledge. In his lecture, Dr. Kucherlapati will describe some of the recent advances and how that knowledge is shedding light on the biology of cancer and helping us develop novel therapeutic approaches.

Assembly, disassembly and reassembly of circuits in the retina

April 23, 2014
Rachel Wong, Ph.D., University of Washington

Proper functioning of the nervous system requires that neurons assemble their stereotypic wiring patterns during development, as well as maintain these connectivity patterns throughout life. In disease, however, surviving neurons rewire inappropriately as the circuits disassemble. Dr. Wong’s laboratory is interested in elucidating the cellular interactions that shape developing circuits in the retina, and in understanding the capacity by which regenerating circuits can recapture their original synaptic arrangements during repair. During the lecture, Dr.

Toward a universal influenza virus vaccine

April 30, 2014
Peter Palese, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Because influenza viruses are constantly changing, it’s difficult to develop effective vaccines against them. Two molecules on the surface of the virus control its infectivity: hemagglutinin and neuraminidase. Current influenza virus vaccines predominantly elicit a protective immune response to the immunodominant but variable head of the hemagglutinin. This approach is effective, especially when the vaccine strain closely matches the circulating virus.

Sex, flies and videotape: how social experience shapes behavior

May 7, 2014
Ulrike A. Heberlein, Howard Hughes Medical Institute – Janelia Farm Research Campus

Alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused drugs in the world with devastating medical and social consequences. The estimated prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders is 8.5 percent in the United States, thus affecting more than 17 million Americans. The difficulty and cost of human studies have led to the development of animal models to investigate the genetic, molecular, and neural mechanisms underlying both the short- and long-term effects of ethanol. Rodent models have been most widely used and have provided important insights into these mechanisms.

Antiviral defense mechanisms at the mucosal surfaces

May 14, 2014
Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D., Yale School of Medicine

Research over the past two decades has led to the fundamental understanding that initiation of immune responses to infectious microorganisms relies on pathogen recognition by innate microbial sensors, collectively known as pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). PRRs fall into several families, each of which recognizes distinct pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). Stimulating PRRs results in transcriptional activation of genes involved in innate defense as well as those that activate antigen-presenting cells for successful priming of “adaptive” T- and B-cell responses.

Interplay between genes and environment in insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome: the unique role of the gut microbiome

May 21, 2014
C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School

Both type 2 diabetes and obesity are the result of complex interactions between genes and environment and between adipose tissue (fat) and other tissues of the body. For example, fat releases adipokines that influence insulin action in other tissues; there are increasingly complex effects of the brain and adipose tissue on the control of metabolism.

ABC transporters: structures, functions, and reaction mechanisms

May 28, 2014
Kaspar P. Locher, Ph.D., ETH Zurich

Our understanding of the reaction mechanisms of membrane-embedded transport proteins or enzymes is insufficient. Dr. Kaspar Locher’s research group investigates two distinct types of membrane proteins, ATP-driven transporters and oligosaccaryltransferase (OST). In the past decade, his lab’s structural studies have defined the transmembrane folds of type 1 and type 2 ABC importers, ABC exporters, and of the catalytic subunit of OST.

Innovations in methods and measures of historical trauma and microaggression distress

June 4, 2014
Karina L. Walters, M.S.W., Ph.D., Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, University of Washington

American Indians and Alaska Natives have endured a succession of historically traumatic assaults and discriminatory events over time against their land, communities, families, and persons. Indigenous community discourse suggests that historical trauma combined with contemporary microaggressions distress can potentially become embodied in health outcomes and health-risk behaviors, particularly substance-use-related risk. Dr.

Optical deconstruction of fully-assembled biological systems

June 11, 2014
Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University

Dr. Deisseroth’s lecture will report on the development of optogenetics and CLARITY technologies. In the optogenetics domain, he will discuss strategies for targeting microbial opsins and light to meet the challenging constraints of the freely-behaving mammal, newly engineered microbial opsin genes spanning a range of optical, kinetic, and ion permeability properties, high-speed behavioral and neural activity-readout tools compatible with real-time optogenetic control, and the application of these tools to develop circuit-based insights into anxiety, depression, and motivated behaviors.

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The page was last updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 12:28pm