Science Friday Talks 2015-2016

Exploring Vitamin D/Vitamin D Receptor and Microbiota in Chronic Inflammation: Push the Envelope

Dr. Jun Sun, Tenured Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Sun discussed non-classical functions of vitamin D and VDR as well as her recent findings on VDR regulation of microbiome and innate immunity in the context of health and inflammation. She addressed mechanistic concepts that underlie inflammation and cancer; and the potential therapeutic strategies to manipulate microbiota in IBD and cancer.

Contributions of Mitochondrial Polymorphisms to Cancer Metastasis

Danny Welch, PhD, Associate Director of Basic Sciences, University of Kansas Cancer Center; Founding Director of the Department of Cancer Biology and Director for National Foundation for Cancer Research Center for Metastasis Research, The University of Kansas Medical Center; Chair and professor of Cancer Biology, The University of Kansas School of Medicine; Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar

The focus of Dr. Welch’s research is on the science of tumor progression and the regulation of cancer metastasis. His lab has developed and characterized many widely used metastasis models, discovering six of the 30 known metastasis suppressors. Dr. Welch presented published and unpublished data showing how polymorphisms in mitochondrial DNA exert pro- and anti-metastatic effects on tumor cells.

Imaging Brain Function and Metabolism In Vivo

In-Young Choi,PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology and Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology and Director of Magnetic Resonance Science, Hoglund Brain Imaging Center at University of Kansas Medical Center

Dr. Choi's research focuses on the identification of quantitative, objective biomarkers of aging and a variety of neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, and Alzheimer disease, primarily utilizing advanced noninvasive in vivo magnetic resonance techniques that her team has developed.

Testing Tularemia Countermeasures

Dr. Carl Gelhaus, Director of Bacterial Programs at MRIGlobal

F. Tularnesis is a highly infectious bacteria of increased interest due to its potential to use a biological/bioterror weapon. Tularemia, the disease caused by F. tularensis, can result in severe morbidity and mortality. As such, therapeutics and vaccines are needed. Dr. Carl Gelhaus has developed well characterized animal models of tularemia which closely resemble human tularemia. Dr. Gelhaus is actively testing therapeutics and vaccines and presented a recent example.

Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore as a Therapeutic Target of Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Shirley ShiDu Yan, Howard Mossberg Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas—Lawrence, KS

Mitochondria dysfunction, one of the early pathological features in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is directly links to synaptic injury and cognitive decline. The underlying mechanisms and strategies to rescue mitochondrial and synaptic injury remain largely unknown. Her study explores the role of cyclophilin D-dependent mPTP in amyloid beta (Aβ)-induced mitochondrial and synaptic perturbation relevant to the pathogenesis of AD.