Suter Science Seminars

Saturday, October 10, 2009, 9 a.m.

Suter Science #106


Advances in Brain Research in the 21st Century

The opportunities in neuroscience research in the 21st century are quite remarkable. I have been involved in the field since completing my PhD at the University of Rochester about a decade after my attendance at EMU. In this presentation I intend to review the advances in brain science that have occurred. These include extraordinary brain imaging technologies that permit analysis of on-going brain function in humans with minimal risk. The powerful technology of human genetics has given information on the genes that cause forms of Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Lou-Gehrig’s disease. These discoveries have made possible inquiries into the mechanisms of brain cell deterioration that cause symptoms of memory loss, movement difficulties, paralysis and mood changes, like depression. I will conclude the presentation with a discussion of brain plasticity, by which I refer to the constantly changing functions of our brains with each new experience forming the basis of cognition and memory. One could add that the 20th century was the century in science of the atom, computer chip and the gene; the 21st century is going to be the century of the ‘synapse’ the assembly of communication between nerve cells that is so fundamental to all of the communication and intellectual capabilities that humans possess.

About the Presenter

Joseph B. Martin, M.D., Ph.D.

Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology
at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Martin served for ten years as dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University. At Harvard, he helped establish the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, comprised of seven Harvard-affliliates, intent on reducing the burden of cancer. In 2001, he formed the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair, a virtual community of over 500 neurology and neuroscientist faculty and researchers working together on understanding the prevention, causes, and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Martin completed a residency in neurology in 1966 and fellowship in neuropathology in 1967 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and received his Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Rochester in 1971.

See past 2007-08 Suter Science Seminars or contact Cheryl Doss at (540) 432-4400 for more information.