Neuroscience Symposia Highlight Brain Research, Relevance for Patients

Sep. 22, 2010
Brain signaling pathways affected by DBS

Two symposia early next month will highlight new research in the areas of neuroinflammation and deep brain stimulation. Both meetings, which are free to members of the University community, are being organized by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The meeting on deep brain stimulation will be Thursday-Friday, Oct. 7-8, at the Memorial Art Gallery. The gathering is an outgrowth of the Silvio O. Conte Center for Research in OCD, which was created last year thanks to a $10.5 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and brings together scientists and others from several institutions collaborating in the center’s research.

Discussions will focus on the use of DBS to treat conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and Parkinson’s disease, as well as insights about exactly what occurs in the brain during the procedure. Speakers will include several physicians and scientists from the University, as well as colleagues from institutions such as Harvard, Brown, and the Cleveland Clinic.

“We’ll be discussing the newest science behind deep brain stimulation, and how those findings translate to patient care,” said Suzanne Haber, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology and Physiology and the head of the Conte center. “There’s a lot of excitement about deep brain stimulation right now. What are the new directions of the field, for instance? We need to be cautious, but at the same time we are excited to be exploring a new frontier.”

Another group of neuroscientists will gather at the Schmitt Symposium on Friday, Oct. 8 in the Class of ’62 Auditorium at the Medical Center to discuss neuroinflammation. “Got Memory? Neuroinflammation and Cognitive Dysfunction in Chronic Disease and Aging” will feature discussions of the role that inflammation in the nervous system plays in millions of patients with conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, brain injury, and stroke. Scientists at Rochester have led pioneering studies illuminating the role that inflammation can play in such diseases. Other speakers will come from institutions such as Duke, the University of Nebraska, and Trinity College in Ireland.

“In recent years it’s really become established that inflammation is a part of many neurodegenerative diseases as well as brain injuries,” said M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy and an organizer of the Schmitt Symposium. “A better understanding of this association helps us think about new ways to develop treatments to help people who have suffered a stroke or who have dementia or other conditions.”

Registration for the Deep Brain Stimulation Symposium is possible through next Thursday, Sept. 30. The scientific events are free to University scientists and students; there is a $60 fee for the Friday night banquet at the George Eastman House.

Registrations will be taken through Monday, Oct. 4. Events are free and open to the University community.

“A crucial portion of both these meetings will be discussions about how new research findings – some discovered right here in our own laboratories – might translate to better health for people around the world,” said Webster Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. “This is what translational neuromedicine is all about.”