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Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Stroke Research Highlighted at Symposium

Nobel Laureate Roger Tsien to address gathering of translational neuroscientists

Leading neuroscientists from around the world, including Nobel Laureate Roger Tsien, PhD, will converge at the University of Missouri's Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center from Feb. 27 to March 1 to take part in the MU Translational Neuroscience Symposium. Tsien was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of green fluorescent protein, which aids researchers in watching processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells or how cancer cells spread.

The University of Missouri has identified neurologic disorders as a major focus for clinical care and translational research, and it has created an environment that brings the newest advances to the heart of Missouri. A new neurosciences unit is under construction at University Hospital to provide care for patients with neurologic problems, and adjoining research laboratories at the Center for Translational Neuroscience in the MU School of Medicine opened in 2010.

Douglas Anthony, MD, PhD, the center's director and chair of pathology and anatomical sciences at MU's medical school, said the symposium helps showcase MU's growing expertise surrounding neurologic disorders and disability, which are among the most serious threats to global health. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and affects more than 5 million Americans.

"Age-related diseases affecting the brain are a source of tremendous human suffering," Anthony said. "Coming together to share in the latest research findings moves us closer to understanding how we can translate our efforts to help people suffering form neurological problems."

In addition to Tsien's keynote lecture, which will take place at 4:10 p.m. March 1 in Monsanto Auditorium, the symposium will feature 14 other lecturers, including five MU faculty members. Grace Sun, PhD, chair of the symposium, is a professor of biochemistry, pathology and anatomical sciences at the MU School of Medicine. Zezong Gu, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences at the medical school. Gary Weisman, PhD, is a professor in the MU Department of Biochemistry. David Beversdorf, MD, PhD, is the Willam and Nancy Thompson Endowed Chair in Radiology, with appointments in radiology, psychological sciences, neurology and the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Dennis O'Brien, DVM, PhD, is a professor of neurology in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and will speak at the banquet on March 1.

Sun will share findings from her ongoing leadership of a multi-center NIH research program focused on Alzheimer's disease. Over the course of her more than 35-year career at MU, Sun has collaborated with researchers from around the world, several of whom now join her at this symposium.

"Expert neuroscientists have been invited to MU to share their ideas and strategies for unlocking the mysteries of the brain and mind," Sun said. "We're helping further develop a network of scientists who work together to fight neurological problems."

To view the complete scientific program, including all speakers and topics, visit For more information about translational neuroscience research at MU, visit

Community members and media are welcome to attend. Limited seating is available for non-paying attendees. Media should contact the MU School of Medicine Office of Communications at (573) 882-9193 or (573) 884-0298 for accommodations and interview requests.

MU Health Magazine


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