Turning "Dark Matter” of the Genome into RNA Drugs

4:00 - 5:00 PM
In this session, we will discuss the “darkest” and least investigated parts of the human genome, that encode for regulatory RNA molecules. Recent discoveries in the field suggest that such molecules may provide a new class of therapeutic targets for diseases ranging from cardiovascular to neurodegenerative to cancer.

ABOUT THE SESSION

Do you know that only about 2% of the human genome encodes for proteins, and that’s what the research was almost entirely focused on over the decades? The majority of our genome, however, produces non-coding RNA that has been considered as “dark matter” or junk material until recently. It turns out that, in fact, this non-protein-coding part of human genome represents the most critical regulatory elements that make us -humans -so different from other animals. These elements are essential for the normal physiologic functions and are often dysregulated in disease. The session will present current advancements in the exciting field of non-coding RNA, cover the diversity of RNA species (e.g., microRNA, transfer RNA, enhancer RNA, etc.), and highlight the promise of translating RNA research into new classes of therapeutics for diseases ranging from cardiovascular to cancer to neurodegenerative.

CHAIR/SPEAKER

Anna M. Krichevsky, PhD

Principal Investigator, Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Faculty Member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

 

 

SPEAKERS

Paul J. Anderson, MD, PhD

Chief Academic Officer, Senior Vice President of Research and Education, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Frank Austen Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

 

Mark W. Feinberg, MD

Physician, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

 

Clemens R. Scherzer, MD

Director, Precision Neurology Program, Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Director, APDA Advanced Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research
Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

SPEAKERS

Anna M. Krichevsky, PhD

Principal Investigator, Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital Faculty Member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Anna Krichevsky is an Associate Professor of Neurology/Neurobiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. She received her MSc and PhD degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School in Boston. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Krichevsky isolated neuronal RNA granules and pioneered the work that led to the recognition of microRNA (miRNA) functions and RNA interference mechanisms in brain physiology and pathology. She performed the first successful RNA interference in mammalian neurons; contributed to the identification of miRNAs in mammalian brain; developed the first high-throughput arrays for miRNA expression profiling; and discovered one of the first oncogenic miRNA, miR-21, that is currently a promising target for various human diseases. Krichevsky’s laboratory identified and studied key miRNAs involved in brain tumors and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Her laboratory also pioneered the identification of miRNA biomarkers for diagnostics and monitoring of primary and metastatic brain tumors. Dr. Krichevsky’s innovative research, featured in HMS Focus, NIH, Reuters Science News, Health Canal, and The Boston Globe, is geared towards RNA medicine and based on multiples collaborations. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the HMS Initiative for RNA Medicine, established to translate RNA research to clinical practice.

Clemens R. Scherzer, MD

Director, Precision Neurology Program, Brigham & Women’s Hospital Director, APDA Advanced Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Clemens Scherzer, MD is Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He directs the Advanced Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research and the Precision Neurology Program of Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Scherzer uses genomes, living laboratories, and machine learning to develop a future, predictive and proactive health care for Parkinson’s and other common neurologic diseases. The goal of his laboratory is to match precision drugs and biomarkers to the genetic blueprint of individual patients and prevent disease from ever progressing. Scherzer co-founded the three major biobanks for Parkinson’s disease, including the Harvard Biomarkers Study. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the American Parkinson Disease Foundation and his work was recognized by the Dr. Paul Beeson and the George C. Cotzias Memorial Awards, and featured in Science, Scientific American, Washington Post, US News & World Reports, and NOVA Next.

Mark W. Feinberg, MD

Physician, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Mark W. Feinberg is a Cardiologist and vascular biologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Feinberg is Director, Program in Cardiovascular RNA Biology that investigates mechanisms leading to the development of a range of macrovascular (e.g. atherosclerosis and coronary and peripheral artery disease) and microvascular disease (e.g. diabetic wound healing). His group has elucidated the functional role of non-coding RNAs (microRNAs and lncRNAs) in endothelial cells and has translated these findings into novel therapeutic approaches for ischemic cardiovascular disease states. Dr. Feinberg has held various leadership roles in cardiovascular research including his service on national peer review study sections, editorial service, and as a Co-Chair of the Brigham Research Institute’s Cardiovascular, Diabetes, and Metabolic Disorders Center. Dr. Feinberg completed his Cardiovascular Medicine fellowship training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he subsequently joined the faculty. He serves as Associate Program Director of the BWH Cardiology Fellowship training program. Dr. Feinberg is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and has received several major research awards including an AHA Louis N. and Arnold M. Katz Prize Finalist and the David W. Haack Memorial Award.

Paul J. Anderson, MD, PhD

Chief Academic Officer, Senior Vice President of Research and Education, Brigham and Women’s Hospital K. Frank Austen Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Paul Anderson is the K. Frank Austen Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the associate chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians and serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee at the American College of Rheumatology. Before graduating from the medical scientist training program at the New York University School of Medicine, Anderson trained with Jan Vilcek, MD, PhD, the inventor of Remicaid, the first biologic therapy for patients with autoimmune disease. Anderson then came to the Brigham where he completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Rheumatology. In 1990 he started his own research laboratory at BWH focusing on the role that post-transcriptional control of gene expression plays in the regulation of inflammatory and stress response programs. His laboratory has been funded by the NIH and by various foundations and industry collaborations, and has hosted more than 30 MD and/or PhD research fellows.

He has authored or co-authored more than 175 publications and is on the editorial boards of a number of journals, including Cellular Immunology and Modern Rheumatology. In addition, Anderson is a senior physician at BWH and sees patients in the Brigham arthritis ambulatory clinic and attends on the Rheumatology consult service. He is a member of the Rheumatology Division Fellowship Selection Committee, which interviews all applicants for the Rheumatology Fellowship Program and makes recommendations for ranking these candidates.

Anderson received a BS in Biology from SUNY Stony Brook, and received both MD and PhD (Microbiology) from New York University School of Medicine.