Neurobiology of Disease

 


 
 
  Themes 2007

Introduction

The neurobiology of disease refers to fundamental genetic, molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral abnormalities that contribute to the manifestations of disease. From a practical perspective, disease-oriented research is not necessarily the same thing as the currently popular term, translational research. Translational research is usually defined as research directed at a specific disease or disease manifestation, and often implies relatively immediate application to humans. Unfortunately, many areas of neurological and psychiatric disease still lack fundamental insights or technology required for therapeutic application. Likewise, there are many examples where "undirected" basic research has led to clinical breakthroughs. Thus there is room (and great need) for both basic research as well as translational research. This introductory week overviews this spectrum beginning with a discussion of neurobiological mechanism that underlie neuropsychiatric disease, an example of successful bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench translational research, and a Toolbox on clinical trials, the ultimate test of new therapeutic strategy.

This course is a "sampler" so participants should not expect to walk away with a comprehensive understanding on any one disease or disease mechanism, but rather with an appreciation of the impact of disease on patients, and an understanding of the potential links between basic science and disease mechanisms.

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Genes and Disease

This theme will examine some of the genes that underlie neurological and psychiatric disease, using channelopathies and epilepsy as the principal focus. There will be a clinical session illustrating the clinical presentation and diagnosis of seizures using patient videotapes. A visiting lecturer, Dr. Jeff Noebels of Baylor College of Medicine, will describe single gene mouse models of epilepsy and the hunt for human epilepsy susceptibility genes.

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Addiction

This theme will examine the basic mechanisms of addiction, and current research themes. There will be a patient interview, toolboxes on functional brain imaging and genetic mouse models, and an interactive session on behavioral assessment.

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Neurodegeneration

This theme encompasses some of the most common neurological diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. We will use PD as the focus this year to examine some of the underlying mechanisms, the clinical features of PD, and the therapeutic options. The sessions will include a Toolbox on deep brain stimulation, a patient interview, and a visiting lecture by Dr. Valina Dawson of Johns Hopkins on genes underlying familial Parkinson's disease.

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Regeneration and Repair

Regeneration and repair is a goal for many neurological diseases. We will focus on demyelinating disease and its most common form, multiple sclerosis (MS). In addition to an overview of demyelinating disease and a clinical interview with an MS patient, we will examine some of the current research topics including oligodendrocytes and myelin repair, axonal injury and the immunology of MS. Dr. Robert Miller of CWRU will be the visiting lecturer.

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