April 18, 2012

Perspective on the Role of Genetic Toxicology in Public Health

The 19th Annual Granville H. Sewell Distinguished Lecture in Environmental Health Sciences

GrandRounds4182012wilson.jpgSamuel H. Wilson, MD
Principal Investigator
DNA Repair and Nucleic Acid Enzymology Group
Laboratory of Structural Biology
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health

Wilson is a leading researcher on DNA repair at the National Institute of Environmental Sciences and an expert in genetic susceptibility and functional genomics, a field that he began researching while still in medical school. It was his early curiosity about what could be causing the association between inflammation and cancer that triggered an interest in the connection between the environment and genomic system.

As Wilson explains, "I saw a great opportunity for making use of DNA information in medical therapeutics and a need for population-based research to understand the significance of genetic background and individual susceptibility."

This this lecture, Wilson provides an overview of the ways that the environment communicates with the genomic system and how an individual's genetic make-up determines his or her response to toxins. Wilson explores some of the key issues and risks to consider when attempting to treat a patient for toxic exposures. More broadly, he discusses the coming era of personalized medicine, when treatment will be based on knowledge of the individual patient’s DNA code.

March 28, 2012

Biological Mechanisms at the Crossroads of Aging and Chronic Diseases

Luigi Ferrucci, MD, PhD

Scientific Director
National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health

"When walking past a person, we make judgments about their age based on visual cues, such as the luminosity and smoothness of the skin, their muscle tone, the drooping of their eyes, and the way they walk," observes Luigi Ferrucci, scientific director of the National Institute on Aging. "These assessments are not based on biological age in terms of numbers of years lived, they are based on age in terms of functionality.”

Many factors determine these "phenotypes of aging"—individual genetics, environmental exposures and activities throughout the lifecourse, and the toll of chronic diseases. In this Grand Rounds lecture, Ferricci reviews research on these determinants of how well individuals age and looks at the keys to more successful aging as a society. Doing a better job of handling aging populations, he says, is "the key to the future of modern society. Behavior that leads to better functionality will buy us better health as adults and in our advanced years."

February 15, 2012

Move the Body and Enrich the Brain

Maintaining, Rehabilitating, and Improving Neurocognitive Health Throughout Life

The areas of our brain that control memory and planning—the hippocampus and frontal lobe—are particularly vulnerable to stress, the environment, and aging. Carlson discusses how advances in science and public health interventions may reverse damage and fortify at-risk brains.

Michelle Carlson, PhD [BIO]

Associate Professor
Associate Director of the Center on Aging and Health
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

January 18, 2012


The Public Health Legacy of Lead in the Environment

A Historical, Social, and Biological Perspective

Tomas R. Guilarte, PhD
Leon Hess Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Health Sciences

David Rosner, PhD
Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and History

Environmental lead is a long-standing focus of research here at the Mailman School. In this lecture, two world renowned experts on faculty, Tomás R. Guilarte, PhD, and David Rosner, PhD, discuss how lead-contaminated homes continue to put children at great risk for mental retardation, kidney disease, and other long-term conditions throughout the lifecourse.

Using domestic and international examples, Guilarte and Rosner illuminate dramatic shifts in the field by exploring these questions: Who is at risk? What, if any, is an acceptable level of exposure? What is the biological impact of lead in the developing brain? What ethical questions are posed by research—in particular, a Johns Hopkins University experiment on lead paint in the 1990s that put children in danger and resulted in a class action lawsuit? And how can science-based strategies mitigate the long-term effects of lead exposure?

December 14, 2011


Inflammation—How it Shapes Health Throughout Life 

Russell P. Tracy, PhD [BIO]
Professor of Pathology and Biochemistry
Director, Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Reserch
Director, Translational Technologies Center for Clinical and Translational Science
University of Vermont

Tracy's talk explores the following questions: What is the role of inflammation in aging and chronic disease? What do large, ongoing studies such as the Cardiovascular Health Study and the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis tell us about the relationship between markers of inflammation and the development of cardiovascular disease and stroke? Does the chronic inflammation seen in HIV patients cause accelerated aging?

November 10, 2011




A Lifecourse Approach to Prevention

Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH
Dean and DeLamar Professor, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health

Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH
Gelman Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology

John S. Santelli, MD, MPH
Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health and Chair, Department of Population and Family Health

How does exposure early in life increase the chance of disease later in life? 

Fried, Galea, and Santelli dive into this question as they explore how early life exposures shape adult health. They look at how windows of vulnerability during periods such as gestation, early childhood, and adolescence set the stage for chronic disease and long-term health, illustrating the importance of a lifecourse perspective for disease prevention and health promotion.

September 14, 2011


Setting a Life Course for Addiction

A Molecular Biological Exploration of the Epidemiological Gateway Sequence of Drug Abuse

Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist 
Eric R. Kandel, MD

Columbia University Professor

Kavli Professor and Director 
Kavli Institute of Brain Sciences in Neuroscience Columbia University Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry

Substance-abuse epidemiologist
Denise B. Kandel, PhD

Professor of Sociomedical Sciences (in Psychiatry)
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Head, Department of the Epidemiology of Substance Abuse
New York State Psychiatric Institute

Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel, MD, and substance abuse epidemiologist Denise B. Kandel, PhD, discuss their research on epidemiological, behavioral, synaptic, and molecular aspects of the "Gateway Sequence" of drug abuse. Their interdisciplinary work provides new answers to the question: Why does the use of legal drugs always precede the use of illegal drugs?

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