Archive for March, 2017

2017 Gordon Science Symposium Featuring Dr. Rudolph Tanzi


Dr. Rudolph Tanzi is a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and and the Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He co-discovered three of the first Alzheimer’s disease genes and has identified several others in the Alzheimer’s Genome Project, which he directs. Dr. Tanzi was the keynote speaker of the 2017 Gordon Science Symposium and its annual David Elmaleh Lecture. Below is the summary of his inaugural address titled “Alzheimer’s disease: a story of genes, glia, and germs”.

Dr. Rudolph Tanzi delivering the Inaugural Elmaleh Lecture of the 2017 Gordon Science Symposium

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia affecting the elderly and is characterized by global cognitive decline. AD is strongly influenced by both genetic factors and lifestyle. While certain rare gene mutations, e.g. in the APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 genes guarantee onset of AD before 60 years old, most cases of AD (>97%) involve genetic susceptibility factors, e.g. APOE, and lifestyle, e.g. diet, exercise, sleep, intellectual and social engagement, stress levels, and brain trauma. Most recently we have found that low-grade infections, e.g. bacterial, fungal, viral, in the brain may also play a role by rapidly nucleating beta-amyloid deposition as an antimicrobial protection response of the brain's innate immune system. Genetic susceptibility factors have been elucidated over the past decade using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and more recently by follow up with whole genome sequencing (WGS) and whole exome sequencing (WES). We are now carrying out GWAS using approximately 50 million single nucleotide variants (SNV) from WGS and WES (whole genome sequencing association studies; WGSAS). As AD-linked/associated functional SNVs are identified in these studies, they are being tested in our 3D human stem cell-derived neural culture models of AD, in which we have shown beta-amyloid directly drives tangle formation. Many of the more recently identified AD genes are involved in innate immunity, e.g. CD33, which we first reported in our family-based GWAS in 2008 (along with ADAM10 and ATXN1). To study CD33 and other innate immune-related AD genes, we have incorporated microglia into our 3D neural cultures while also utilizing classic transgenic mouse models.

Accelerating Data Acquisition for Anatomical, Physiological, and Functional MRI


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides various methods for imaging anatomical, physiological, and functional information of our body noninvasively. In a conference organized by the Gordon Center, Dr. Sung-Hong Park, from the South Korean university of KAIST, discussed the latest imaging modalities for acceleration of data acquisition in terms of pulse sequences and image reconstructions. These modalities include (i) acquisition of time-of-flight MR angiogram and blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) MR venogram, (ii) application of compressed sensing to arterial spin labeling, a non-invasive perfusion MRI technqiue, (iii) simultaneous acquisiton of blood perfusion and magnetization transfer (MT) with 2D inter-slice blood flow and MT effects, and (iv) acceleration of functional MRI with compressed sensing.

Dr. Sung-Hong Park is Associate Professor at the Department of Bio & Brain Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center.

Congratulations Daniel Yokell, Robert E. Henkin Government Relations Fellowship Recipient


Daniel L. Yokell, PharmD, RPh, associate director, Radioactive Drug Regulatory Affairs in the Gordon Center for Medical Imaging and manager of PET Production Chemistry & PET Nuclear Pharmacy Services, has received the 2017 Robert E. Henkin Government Relations Fellowship from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) and Education Research Foundation for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. The fellows spend a week with SNMMI staff, visiting Congress, federal agencies and other medical societies where they learn first-hand how the federal legislative and regulatory process impacts nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. Dr. Yokell hopes to use the fellowship to enhance his knowledge of regulatory and government affairs issues to educate stakeholders on the essential role nuclear medicine and molecular imaging plays in patient care.

Daniel Yokell working at the PET production facility of the MGH Gordon Center