Battling Brain Drain: Fighting the Good Fight Against Brain Disease

3PM – 4PM | Brigham Building for Transformative Medicine
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About the Session

 

Diseases of the brain, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and brain tumors, cause disability and devastation for millions of patients and their families each year. In the U.S., one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, meaning that these diseases alone touch the lives of almost everyone in this country. Here at BWH, neuroscience researchers are conducting cutting-edge clinical trials and using a multitude of technologies — like imaging, immunology, microbiome research and precision medicine — to advance our understanding of how these diseases develop and progress. In this session, experts will speak about topics such as methods to predict the occurrence of Alzheimer’s, diagnosing Parkinson’s, the genetic basis of MS, ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases, the use of imaging to track the progression of these diseases and our collaboration with industry to tackle these debilitating conditions.

Speakers


MODERATOR
:

  • Howard Weiner, MD
    Robert L. Kroc Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School
    Director and Founder of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center
    Co-Director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital

 

PANELISTS:

  • Rohit Bakshi, MD, MA
    Director, Laboratory for Neuroimaging Research
    Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Jack, Sadie & David Breakstone Professor of Neurology & Radiology, Harvard Medical School

 

  • Joseph Lehar, PhD
    Computational Biology Head, Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences)

 

  • Nikolaos Patsopoulous, MD, PhD
    Department of Neurology, BWH
    Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

 

  • Clemens Scherzer, MD
    Director, Neurogenomics Lab and Parkinson Personalized Medicine Initiative

 

  • Tracy Young-Pearse, PhD
    Assistant Professor of Neurology
    Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases
    Brigham & Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School
bakshi

Rohit Bakshi, MD, MA
Director, Laboratory for Neuroimaging Research
Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, BWH
Jack, Sadie & David Breakstone Professor of Neurology & Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Bakshi is the Jack, Sadie & David Breakstone Professor of Neurology & Radiology at Harvard Medical School and a Senior Neurologist at the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center at BWH. He has built a research program involving quantitative MRI in MS through support from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation & National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He has served as Chair of the Neuroimaging Section of the American Academy of Neurology, President of the American Society of Neuroimaging, & Associate Editor of the journal Neurotherapeutics. In 2015, he began his appointment as Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroimaging. Dr. Bakshi has given more than 200 invited academic lectures & authored more than 200 peer-reviewed articles.

lehar

Joseph Lehar, PhD
Computational Biology Head, Verily (Formerly Google Life Sciences)

Dr. Lehar heads Verily’s computational biology group. He came to Google from Novartis, where he was a director of bioinformatics for Oncology Translational Medicine. Prior to that, Dr. Lehar played a key role at CombinatoRx Inc, a biotech firm focused on drug combinations. Dr. Lehar holds a Ph.D. in physics and his original career was astrophysics, which he pursued at MIT, Cambridge University and Harvard.

nikos

Nikolaos Patsopoulos, MD, PhD
Director, Biology and Computer Science Program
Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Associate Member at the Broad Institute

Dr. Patsopoulos is leading the largest genetic study in multiple sclerosis on behalf the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, with more than 110K participants. He is using large-scale genetic data and algorithms to build a detailed genetic map for multiple sclerosis. Besides unraveling the genetic architecture of the disease, his group is using genomic and epigenetic data to identify implicated genes and prioritize new targets for drug development.

clemens

Clemens Scherzer, MD
Director, Neurogenomics Lab and Parkinson Personalized Medicine Initiative

Scherzer uses genetics and big data to develop a new, proactive and personalized medicine for Parkinson’s disease. His interdisciplinary lab includes computer scientists, biologists, and clinicians. Similar to how a search engine targets advertisements to a user based on massive search history, the lab’s goal is to match drugs and tests to a patient based on a search of his entire biology. He co-directs the Harvard Biomarkers Study, today with more than 2,500 participants one of the largest longitudinal biobanks for Parkinson’s in the world. To understand how the human genome encodes human brain cells in health and disease, Scherzer is leading the BRAINCODE project funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. This initiative is establishing a Brain Cell encyclOpeDia of all transcribed Elements in specific types of human brain cells relevant to Parkinson and other brain diseases.

Howard Weiner, MD
Robert L. Kroc Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School
Director and Founder of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center
Co-Director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Howard L. Weiner is the Robert L. Kroc Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School, Director and Founder of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center and Co-Director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Dr. Weiner established the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in 2000 which combines clinical evaluation, MRI imaging and immune monitoring and is the first integrated MS center that brings these disciplines to the individual care of the MS patient. Dr. Weiner has pioneered the use of immunotherapy and the drug cyclophosphamide for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and has investigated immune abnormalities in the disease including the role of the innate immune system and regulatory T cells. He has also pioneered the use of the mucosal immune system for the treatment of autoimmune and other diseases, including ALS, Huntington’s disease, and stroke. Based on his work vaccines are being tested in multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and most recently in Alzheimer’s disease. He is also developing new therapeutic options for Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO). Dr. Weiner is the author of “Curing MS: How Science is Solving the Mystery of Multiple Sclerosis” that chronicles the history of MS, his 30+ years in the research and clinical treatment of MS, and details his “21 point hypothesis” on the etiology and treatment of multiple sclerosis. In 2004 Harvard Medical School honored Dr. Weiner with the establishment of the Howard L. Weiner Professor of Neurology Endowed Chair.

Dr. Weiner is the 2007 recipient of the John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research awarded by the American Academy of Neurology and in 2008 received the Betty and David Koetser Memorial Prize as awarded by the Betty and David Koetser Foundation for Brain Research. In 2009, Dr. Weiner was presented the Award for Outstanding Research Achievement, Nature Biotechnology SciCafé, Nature Publications.

In June, 2008 Dr. Weiner premiered his documentary film entitled, What Is Life? The Movie, a production he has been working on for three years a feature-length documentary that explores the big questions in life that everyone faces and for which there are no clear answers: God, the nature of the soul, how to attain meaning in one’s life, evil, destiny.

tracy

Tracy Young-Pearse, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases
Brigham & Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School