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. Any research that is directed at a specific disease
or disease manifestation is often called "translational", but NIH has a
more narrow definition i.e. any research that involves human subjects or
that has immediate application to clinical therapies (e.g. clinical trials). Unfortunately, many areas of neurological and psychiatric disease still
lack the fundamental insights or technology required for therapeutic
application. Likewise, there are many examples where "undirected" basic
research has led to clinical breakthroughs. Thus in neuroscience there
is room (and great need) for both basic research as well as translational
research. 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 we hope to impart an appreciation of the impact of
disease on patients, and an understanding of the potential links between
basic science and disease mechanisms.
The introductory session overviews this spectrum, beginning with a
discussion of neurobiological mechanisms that underlie neuropsychiatric
disease. We will also discuss how clinicians gather information and make
diagnoses. The second session in the introduction will provide an overview
of clinical trials.
Neurodegeneration (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease)
This theme will examine topical issues in neurodegenerative disease,
using Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease as the clinical focal
points. We will interview patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease,
and overview the clinical manifestations and underlying mechanisms. We will
also discuss therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative diseases using
Alzheimer's disease as an example, and the developing technology of gene
therapy using cells and viruses. Kenneth Kosik from the University of
California at Santa Barbara will discuss his work with families with
early onset Alzheimer's in Columbia and recent studies involving tau protein.
Mitochondria and Energetics (stroke, peripheral neuropathy)
Mitochondria not only produce energy for cells including neurons, but
also regulate such processes as calcium homeostasis and cell death.
The role of mitochondria in a wide spectrum of neurological disorders
is being increasingly recognized. This theme will begin with an overview
of mitochondrial energetics in neurons. Jungers' symposium speaker
Tim Murphy from University of British Columbia will then discuss in
vivo imaging of cortical circuits in response to ischemia. Robert Baloh
from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles will discuss his work on
the role of mitochondria in the pathophysiology of peripheral nerve disease.
Two clinical sessions will present an overview of stroke in the adult, and
the special case of perinatal inchemic injury.
Injury and Repair (Multiple Sclerosis)
Understanding neural injury and facilitating repair of damaged or
degenerating nervous system poses a number of daunting scientific
challenges, even though we have made great progress in understanding
neural plasticity and repair mechanisms. This theme will examine axonal
injury and repair, particularly focusing on the use of model organisms.
Our clinical focus for this theme will be multiple sclerosis (MS). Sessions
on MS will include a clinical overview of the neuroimmunology of the disease
and its treatment, and we will interview a patient with MS. During the second
week of this theme, we will explore experimental systems that are investigating
the response of the nervous system to injury, and the capacity for axonal
During this week students will be matched for a 1/2 day with a clinician
on the inpatient wards, the neuroscience intensive care unit or one of the
subspecialty neurology clinics. This opportunity will allow students to see
how neurological health care is delivered and some of the issues that face
patients and clinicians on day-to-day basis. In final session of this theme,
we will share the experiences of the week.