Research Festival 2002, October 15-18
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Mini-Symposia Session I Wednesday, October 16
Recent Advances in Human Brain Imaging 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Natcher Conference Center
Main Auditorium
Chaired by Elliot A. Stein, NIDA
This symposium will highlight recent advances and applications of human neuroimaging. Positron emission tomography (PET) involves the injection of tracer doses of a radioactively labeled drug and subsequent quantitative imaging of the distribution of radioactivity in the body over time. Thus, PET imaging can be used to measure the biodistribution and kinetics of potential therapeutic agents that could later be given in pharmacological doses. In addition, when designed appropriately, the binding of the radiotracer can provide information on its receptor - typically a specific protein - i.e., a "molecular" target. The use of molecular PET imaging to study the central nervous system, both drug development and as a marker for relevant proteins in the brain will be discussed. In contrast, fMRI is a tool that takes advantage of different magnetic properties of intrinsic or exogenous substances within the brain as indirect markers of neuronal activity. Novel hardware and software strategies will be discussed to extend the resolution and sensitivity of the technique as well as examples of fMRI application in the study of human drug abuse.

Robert Innis, NIMH Molecular Imaging with PET as a Tool to Explore Pathophysiology and to Facilitate Therapeutic Drug Development
Jeff Duyn, NINDS Recent Technical Advances in fMRI
Elliot Stein, NIDA fMRI applications to study human drug abuse
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Prions 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Natcher Conference Center
Balcony B
Chaired by Suzette A. Priola, NIAID

Prions are unique in biology in that they represent heritable or infectious elements that appear to be devoid of nucleic acids. The formation of prions involves the conversion of a normal soluble host prion protein to an abnormal, insoluble form. In the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE or prion diseases), a group of mammalian neurodegnerative diseases that includes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and BSE, the abnormal prion protein is closely associated with infectivity and has been proposed to be the infectious TSE agent. In yeast, prions are responsible for the non-Mendelian heritability of certain phenotypes. The unique challenge in prion research, and the focus of this session, is to understand how a host-derived protein may be responsible for the different aspects of TSE disease in mammals and non-genetic heritable elements in yeast.

Suzette A. Priola, NIAID The Role of Prion Protein in Species Barriers to TSE Infection
Ramanujan Hegde, NICHD Biogenesis of the Cellular Prion Protein in Cell Biology and Disease Pathogenesis
Daniel C. Masison, NIDDK Cellular Factors Affecting Yeast Prion Propagation
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Stem Cells 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Natcher Conference Center
Conference Room E1/E2
Co-chaired by Mahendra Rao, NIA and Ron McKay, NINDS

Stem cells have been identified in a variety of tissues at different developmental stages. Stem cells offer novel therapeutic avenues to treating diseases as well as a source of cells for large scale genomic analysis. We have chosen three speakers who will address specific aspects of stem cell biology. Dr. Panchison will present his results on how to regulate stem cell differentiation using bone morphogenetic proteins. Dr. Lumelsky will present her results on using ES cells to generate a specific population of differentiated cells the pancreatic islet cells. Dr. Becker will describe how microarray technology can be combined with our ability to grow purified populations of stem and precursor cells to identify new regulators of stem cell growth or new functions of known genes.

David Panchison, NINDS Regulation of CNS Stem Cell Identity, Production and Fate by Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
Nadya Lumelsky, NIDDK Generation of Pancreatic Islets in vitro
Kevin Becker, NIA Using Microarrays to Assess Stem Cell Properties
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