February 8: C. Thomas Caskey, M.D., “What Is Molecular Medicine?”
Molecular medicine seeks the causes and mechanisms of diseases at the molecular level, where life processes actually take place. For most of medical history, physicians could treat only the symptoms or manifestations of disease. Today, powerful new technologies enable us to understand the fundamental molecular and genetic mechanism of diseases, to diagnose individuals’ “risk” prior to the onset, and to develop new, more efficient therapies.
C. Thomas Caskey is the chief operating officer, director-elect, and chief executive officer–elect of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine and executive vice president of molecular medicine and genetics of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
February 15: Eric Boerwinkle, Ph.D., “Using Genetic Information to Improve Human Health”
There has been a revolution in human biomedical research catalyzed by the sequencing of the human genome and availability of powerful medical technologies. The human genome project identifies the genes contributing to the common chronic disease, especially heart disease and stroke, and it also guides physicians to treatment that will benefit a particular patient based on his or her genetic makeup.
Eric Boerwinkle is professor and director of the Center for Human Genetics and holds the Kozmetsky Family Chair in Human Genetics at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine. He is professor and director of the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health.
February 21: Paul J. Simmons, Ph.D., “Stem Cells: From Concept to Clinic”
With their unique biological properties, stem cells represent an unparalleled opportunity to develop new therapies for currently incurable diseases and disorders. So-called adult stem cells help to form tissues during early development, and in adult life they help to regenerate and repair damaged tissues. More recently attention has focussed on the properties of embryonic stem (ES) cells, which grow indefinitely and give rise to each of the 200 or so different cell types that compose the human body.
Paul J. Simmons is professor and director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine.
March 1: Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., “Nanotechnology and Medicine”
Nanotechnology is the art and science of making devices and components with exquisite control over their dimensions, down to the range of a few atoms and molecules. At that tiny scale, the properties of materials and the functions of devices offer enormous medical possibilities. They can aid in detecting disease at its earliest stages and in administering therapy that affects only the target lesions and decreases unwanted side effects.
Mauro Ferrari is professor and director of the Center for NanoMedicine at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine. He is also chairman of the department of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, professor of experimental therapeutics at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, professor of bioengineering at Rice University, and president of the Alliance for NanoHealth.