Phylogenetic studies indicate that T cells and B cells have been constant companions in vertebrates for more than 500 million years. For antigen recognition, however, lymphocytes in the jawless vertebrates (lampreys and hagfish) use variable lymphocyte receptors that are composed of leucine-rich repeat sequences instead of immunoglobulin V(D)J and C domains. Convergent evolution may account for these alternative solutions to achieve specific adaptive immunity.
“In this talk, I will describe how state-of-the-art research on brain–machine interfaces makes it possible for the brains of primates to interact directly and in a bi-directional way with mechanical, computational and virtual devices without any interference of the body’s muscles or sensory organs. I will review a series of recent experiments using real-time computational models to investigate how ensembles of neurons encode motor information.
Whether animals are looking for food or mates, or avoiding pathogens and predators, they rely on biosensors—molecules that allow animals to sense and respond to their environments. Creating new kinds of biosensors to receive, process, and transmit molecular information is the focus of Dr. Smolke’s research. Her innovative approaches for designing biomolecules have applications in diagnostics, drug development, green chemistry, and more. Her lab has created RNA molecules, or switches, that can detect the disease state of a cell.
The ability to control protein levels using PROTACs is changing how drugs are being developed and is expanding our concept of the druggable target space. Moreover, PROTACs offer the advantages of siRNA but with more favorable pharmaceutical properties (ADME, biodistribution, routes of administration). For the past 20 years, Dr. Crews has pioneered the development of this new modality from concept to clinical trials. Here he will describe the current and future trends in this fast-paced, exciting new therapeutic field.
Ralph R. Isberg, Ph.D. Tufts University School of Medicine
Intravacuolar bacterial pathogens establish intracellular niches by constructing membrane-encompassed compartments. The vacuoles surrounding the bacteria are remarkably stable, facilitating microbial replication and preventing exposure to host cytoplasmically-localized innate immune sensing mechanisms. To maintain the integrity of the membrane compartment, the pathogen is armed with defensive weapons that prevent loss of vacuole integrity and potential exposure to host innate signaling. In this presentation, Dr.
Sonia Vallabh, J.D., Ph.D. & Eric Minikel, Ph.D. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Prion disease is a rare, exceptionally rapid neurodegenerative disease. The average patient dies within only six months of their first symptom. There is no treatment that can prevent or slow this catastrophic decline. But in the lab, prion disease is among the most tractable brain diseases: It can be faithfully modeled in animals; it is caused by a single protein; and there are excellent proofs of concept that lowering the amount of that protein should protect against disease.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and in the developed world. Two NIH-supported randomized clinical trials with 10 years of follow-up in nearly 10,000 participants demonstrated that nutritional supplements with antioxidant vitamins and minerals reduces the risk of progression to late AMD. Dietary data suggest the importance of the Mediterranean diet in reducing the risk of AMD, particularly fish consumption. The analyses of the genetic interaction with nutrition challenges the idea that you can eat away your genetic risk.
Although stakeholder engagement is a crucial part of participatory public health research, the measurement of that engagement in research is varied, inconsistent, and not methodologically sound. Dr. Goodman is pioneering new, comprehensively validated quantitative measures of stakeholder engagement. Emerging data suggest a valid and reliable measure that can be used to determine the level of research engagement and accurately assess associations between research outcomes and stakeholder engagement.
Gilda A. Barabino, Ph.D. The City College of New York
Dr. Barabino’s research interests are primarily focused on cellular and tissue responses to fluid mechanical forces in the context of vascular disease and orthopedic tissue engineering. She concentrates on the characterization and quantification of mechanical and biochemical cues that influence tissue growth and disease progression.
Large-scale cancer genome sequencing consortia, such as TCGA, have provided a huge influx of somatic mutation data across large cohorts of patients. Understanding how these observed genetic alterations give rise to specific cancer phenotypes is a major aim of cancer genomics. This is challenging because numerous somatic mutations occur in each cancer genome, but only a subset are cancer-relevant; further, there is a high degree of mutational heterogeneity across individuals.
This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 10, 2021