The Life Science Institute’s annual symposium Thursday features cutting-edge research on both the development of the nervous system and on neurodegenerative disease. The event also features speakers from a variety of disciplines trying to shed light on what goes wrong in the body when cognitive ability declines.
Susan Lindquist will deliver the keynote Mary Sue and Kenneth Coleman Life Sciences Lecture, following an introduction by President Coleman at 9 a.m. in Kahn Auditorium in the Biomedical Sciences Research Building. Lindquist is a member and former director of the Whitehead Institute, and a winner of the 2009 National Medal of Science. She is a pioneer in the study of a cellular process known as protein folding, linked to the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent National Vital Statistics Reports, among such diseases Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States; Parkinson’s is the 14th. Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
“These are very, very complicated diseases,” Lindquist says. “They’re caused because proteins are misbehaving, but lots of pathways impinge. These diseases involve a lot of different things going wrong.”
The talks are scientific, but are designed to appeal to a non-specialized audience. For a schedule of the symposium, which is free and open to the public, go to www.lsi.umich.edu/newsevents/events.
Author Michael Mann, an authority on the science behind climate change, will present a lecture inspired by his book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines,” from 4-5 p.m. Friday at the U-M American Association of University Professors annual meeting. The talk, in the Physics Colloquium Room 340, West Hall, is open to the public.
Mann, professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore and scientist colleagues on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They were recognized for their work to study the science supporting the existence of climate change in the industrial era and the evidence for a direct role of human activity.
The hockey stick in the book’s title refers to a graph from the IPCC’s report in 2003. It showed the average North American temperature over the last millennium, and how it accelerated at the time of industrialization.
“We are interested in having Professor Mann speak because of the science itself, which is on an obviously crucial topic, one that the nation has to debate realistically in the coming years, but also because of the aspect of academic freedom so evident in his case and illuminated and reported on in his new book,” says event organizer Daniel Burns, professor of mathematics, LSA.
David Potter, Francis W. Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History, on loving graduate school: “Mostly because I had the freedom to develop my own research interests and had intelligent people to talk to about it.”