UCC to host neuroscience conference on brain disorders this week

9 Sep 2013

University College Cork (UCC) is set to host world-renowned neuroscientists for a two-day event this week to explore and share ideas, insights and latest discoveries on the workings of the brain in sickness and in health. A particular focus will be on brain disorders that can happen as a result of stress and depression, the newborn brain and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

The neuroscience meeting, which will run at UCC on 12 and 13 September, will aim to give further insight into how the brain works, in both health and disease.

A particular emphasis of the seminar will be the vulnerable brain, in times of early and advanced age and during stress.

One of the great challenges of humankind

According to scientists in the neurological space, one in three people will suffer a brain disorder across their lifespan.

This year, neuroscience research has been given an extra push – both the EU and the US has launched large-scale initiatives in order to push out the research scope to pave the way for new discoveries and treatments that could one day treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

At this week’s event in Cork, speakers will be aiming to show how research that is carried out at the molecular level can be translated so that it can, one day, help people with a brain disorder.

From the newborn brain …

Speakers will encompass Dr Susan Vanucci, a research professor of neuroscience in pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr Pierre Gressens, who is director of INSERM at Diderot University Paris. Both Vanucci and Gressens are known in global research circles for being leading authorities on the newborn brain.

Also speaking will be Prof Yehezkel Ben Ari, founder and honorary director of INMED (Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méditerranée) in Marseille, France, is an internationally renowned neuroscientist.

His recent work is on understanding the mechanisms underlying autism.

… to older people

In terms of brain diseases that can affect older people, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common neurodegenerative disorders.

Scientists who will be showcasing their research that homes in on these disorders will include Dr Rohan de Silva from University College London, Dr Luc Buée and Dr David Blum, both of whom hail from Université Lille-Nord de France.

Buée, for instance, has worked on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders for 20 years.

Angela Cenci Nisson, who heads up the Basal Ganglia Pathophysiology Laboratory at Lund University in Sweden will be sharing insights on translational neuroscience, especially in relation to Parkinson’s disease.

Prof Christian Holscher, who has run the Neuroscience Research Group at University of Ulster, will be thrashing out ideas on the relationship between diet, environment and neurodegeneration.

Psychiatric disorders and the brain

Because stress and trauma to the brain can spur on psychiatric disorders, neuroscientists will be zeroing in on this area of medical science.

Eero Castrén, a professor from the Neuroscience Center at the University of Helsinki in Finland, and Nicolas Singewald, a professor from Universität Innsbruck in Austria, will be arguing how both behavioural therapies and antidepressants can reverse such effects.

On the flip side, Dr Carmine Pariante, a consultant psychiatrist in the UK National Health Service (NHS), will be sharing his insights on the long-term consequences of depression during pregnancy and on the health of offspring.

Finally, the mechanisms of how we learn, remember and pay attention will be discussed by a number of delegates, including Simon Kelly, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at City College of New York. He obtained both his degree and PhD at University College Dublin.

The UCC conference is being jointly Neuroscience Ireland and the Biochemical Society Irish Area Section.

More than 200 delegates are expected to be at UCC for the two-day seminar.

Neuroscience and brain image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic