Minisymposium planned

Published August 30, 2012

Neurodegenerative disorders will be the topic of the sixth annual mini-symposium being presented by the UB 2020 strategic strength in Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics.

The mini-symposium will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 8 in the Zebro Room, Center for Genetics & Pharmacology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The goal of the mini-symposium is to bring state-of-the art research on neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, to the Buffalo science community, according to lead conference organizer Laura Feltri, professor of biochemistry, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and a member of the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute at UB.

“As our population ages, neurodegenerative diseases are becoming a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, alongside cardiovascular diseases and cancer,” Feltri says. These diseases differ from cancer and cardiovascular illnesses, however, in that there are few preventive measures and only palliative therapies available for most of these devastating conditions, she explains.

“Genetic factors are of paramount importance in these pathologies, and we expect great benefit from recent advances in genomics and genetics occurring around the world and at the UB’s New York Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.”

Feltri says the mini-symposium will bring together leaders in the neurodegeneration field from the international community and from UB to discuss recent advances in the field. Among them are:

  • Kenneth Fischbeck, chief of the Neurogenetics Branch of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, who discovered the first DNA triplet-repeat disease (such as Huntington’s disease).
  • James Lupski, Cullen Professor of Molecular Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, a pioneer in the genetics of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease and the use of whole-genome sequencing for personalized medicine. Lupsky sequenced his own DNA to find the cause of his own CMT.
  • Serge Przedborski, Page and William Black Professor of Neurology, Pathology and Cell Biology, and co-director of the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease, Columbia University Medical Center, who was among the first to show the importance of oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis in Parkinson’s disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
  • Jean-Pierre Julien, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, Laval University, who demonstrated the role of intermediate filaments in axonal degeneration and neuronal death in ALS and other motor neuron diseases.

Also speaking will be UB faculty members Jian Feng, professor of physiology and biophysics, and Lawrence Wrabetz, professor of neurology and director of the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute.