Hudson Hoagland Society Annual Meeting focuses on neurodegenerative disease

By Mark L. Shelton

UMass Medical School Communications

June 07, 2017
  Neil Aronin, MD; Miguel Sena-Esteves, PhD; and Anastasia Khvorova, PhD during the panel discussion on “Neurodegenerative Diseases: Crossing the Barrier to Cures.”
 

Neil Aronin, MD; Miguel Sena-Esteves, PhD; and Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, during the panel discussion “Neurodegenerative Diseases: Crossing the Barrier to Cures.”

   
  Jack and Susan Bassick with Jie Song, PhD, the recipient of the 2017 Bassick Family Foundation Award.
 

Jack and Susan Bassick with Jie Song, PhD, the recipient of the 2017 Bassick Family Foundation Award.

At the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Hudson Hoagland Society on May 24, members paid tribute to the group’s distinguished research history and heard about the exciting progress being made toward treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Disease.

The HHS, named for the co-founder of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research, which became part of the Medical School in 1997, is predicated on the understanding that biomedical research would lead scientists—and society—in unexpected directions, and that support for pioneering research is a necessity.

This year, HHS members heard an interactive panel discussion on the topic “Neurodegenerative Diseases: Crossing the Barrier to Cures.” Panelists were Miguel Sena-Esteves, PhD, associate professor of neurology; Neil Aronin, MD, professor of medicine, radiology and RNA therapeutics; and Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, professor of RNA therapeutics and molecular medicine.

Dr. Aronin ended his part of the panel discussion with a powerful statement to the audience: “In 2004, I received a Worcester Foundation grant from the funds you helped raise,” he said. “This grant was critical in moving my research forward—I can’t thank you enough.”

Aronin’s research focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of Huntington’s Disease, a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain, and on the mechanisms and clinical applications of gene silencing with RNA interference.

In addition to the panel discussion, Thoru Pederson, PhD, the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and scientific director of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research when it merged with UMass Medical School, announced the 2017 recipients of Worcester Foundation Research Grants, which are supported by gifts to the Hudson Hoagland Society. Recipients were:

Rachel Gerstein, PhD, associate professor of microbiology & physiological systems
“Auto-immune antibodies in multiple sclerosis”

Paul Greer, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine
“Characterizing a new mechanism through which mammals detect olfactory stimuli”

David Grunwald, PhD, assistant professor of RNA therapeutics and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
“Prototype development for a 20 color, 3D real time microscope”

Andrei Korostelev, PhD, associate professor of RNA therapeutics and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
“Elucidating the translation-transcription coupling”

Jie Song, PhD, associate professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation and radiology
“Injectable immune barrier for islets encapsulation and transplantation” (Bassick Family Foundation Award Recipient)

Jonathan Watts, PhD, associate professor of RNA therapeutics and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
“T to C conversion for amplifiable metabolic labeling of DNA at single base resolution”

 

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