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Vikram Patel, Ph.D., M.B., B.S.
Professor of Global Health
Blavtnik Institute of Global Health & Social Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Vikram Patel is The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the Harvard Medical School. He is a psychiatrist who has worked in the UK, Zimbabwe, Australia and, since 1996, in India. His work has focused on the burden of mental disorders, their association with social disadvantage, and the use of community resources for their prevention and treatment. He holds Honorary Professorships at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the Public Health Foundation of India, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (where he co-founded the Centre for Global Mental Health in 2008). He is a co-founder of Sangath, an Indian NGO, which won the MacArthur Foundation’s International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008, and the WHO Public Health Champion of India award in 2016. He is a co-founder of the Movement for Global Mental Health. He is a Fellow of the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences and has served as co-chair of the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health, on the National Mental
Health Policy Group of India and the WHO High Level Independent Commission for Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health. He has been awarded the Chalmers Medal (Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, UK), the Sarnat Medal (USNational Academy of Medicine), an Honorary Doctorate from Georgetown University, the
Pardes Humanitarian Prize (the Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation), an Honorary OBE from the UK Government, and the Posey Leadership Award (Austin College). He was listed in TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential persons of the year in 2015.

 

"Thrown Under The Bus? Young people’s mental health in the pandemic"

The lecture will address the growing burden of mental health problems in young people even before the pandemic, how the pandemic has fuelled this further, the possible reasons why this is happening and how society, and young people, needs to respond to this challenge.  


  

Huda Zoghbi, MD
Department of Pediatrics, Molecular and Human Genetics, Neurobiology and Neuroscience
Baylor College of Medicine

Huda Y. Zoghbi is a Lebanese-born physician and medical researcher. She is a professor in the departments of Pediatrics, Molecular and Human Genetics, and Neurology and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine , the director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute . Her work has elucidated mechanisms of Rett syndrome and spinocerebellar ataxias.

Zoghbi is one of the world's leading experts on the rare Rett Syndrome and other neurological disorders. In 1983 Zoghbi was introduced to Rett syndrome by Bengt Hagberg 's account in Annals of Neurology . Though Rett syndrome was largely unrecognized by neurologists at the time, this account allowed Zoghbi to diagnose a five-year-old she treated at Texas Children's Hospital. A week later Zoghbi saw another patient with the same set of symptoms. When she investigated medical records, she found more cases of Rett syndrome that had been misdiagnosed. After she completed her second residency, her desire to understand the cause of Rett syndrome and other neurological disorders led her to a postdoctoral research fellowship with molecular geneticist Arthur Beaudet . Zoghbi founded her own lab at Baylor College of Medicine in 1988.


 

"Molecular and Neurobiological Studies in Rett syndrome and other MECP2 disorders"

Rett syndrome is a delayed-onset childhood disorder, typically found in girls, that causes a broad range of severe neurological disabilities, including loss of the ability to speak and socialize, and the development of tremors, ataxia, seizures, autonomic dysfunction, and stereotypic hand-wringing movements. We discovered that mutations in the gene MECP2 cause Rett syndrome, and before long it became clear that mutations in MECP2 can also cause other neuropsychiatric phenotypes ranging from autism to bipolar disorders. Using genetically-engineered mice, we learned that the brain is acutely sensitive to MeCP2 levels; both decreases and increases in the amount of MeCP2 protein can lead to neurological problems that are also observed in humans. We learned that normalizing MeCP2 levels can reverse disease-like features in a mouse model of the human MECP2 duplication syndrome, a disorder that is usually found in boys and results from excess MeCP2. We recently discovered that the plasticity of the brain in Rett syndrome mice is far better in the pre-symptomatic phase highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and interventions. 


  

Meghan Azad, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba 

Dr. Azad is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Manitoba. She holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease and co-Directs the new Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (MILC). Her research program is focused on the role of infant nutrition and the microbiome in child growth, development and resilience. Dr. Azad serves as Deputy Director of the CHILD Cohort Study, a national pregnancy cohort following 3500 children to understand how early life experiences shape lifelong health. She is leading a clinical trial to improve matching procedures for preterm neonates receiving donor human milk, and directing the new International Milk Composition (IMiC) Consortium. Her research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Azad serves on the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation Executive Council and the joint US/Canada Human Milk Composition Initiative.

"Human Milk: the Ultimate Superfood & Personalized Medicine"
Research and Collaborations at the Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Center (MILC)

Human breast milk is an extraordinary ‘superfood’, providing all of the nutrients a baby needs, in exactly the right combination. It changes over time as the baby grows, and responds to the mother and baby’s shared environment. Human milk is also the ultimate ‘personalized medicine’, providing protection against infections during infancy, and lowering the risk of asthma and obesity later in childhood. These incredible properties of breast milk are related to its bioactive components, including live bacteria and specialized sugars that help ‘seed and feed’ the baby’s gut microbiome.  Within the Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Center (MILC), the Azad Lab is studying how breastfeeding and human milk shape the infant microbiome and contribute to infant growth, child development and lifelong health.

The MILC Team collaborates with scientists, scholars and stakeholders around the world specializing in immunology, biochemistry, data science, lactation and global health. Supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this research involves over 4000 mothers and infants participating in birth cohort studies and randomized clinical trials.


 

 

Elaine Fuchs, Ph.D.
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Elaine Fuchs received her PhD in Biochemistry from Princeton. She performed postdoctoral research with Howard Green at MIT, where she began her career in skin biology. She joined the faculty at University of Chicago, where she focused on skin stem cells and their associated genetic disorders. In 2002, she relocated to Rockefeller University, where she is the Rebecca Lancefield professor of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development. Fuchs has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1988. Her many awards and honors include the National Medal of Science from President Barak Obama, L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for women in science, Albany Prize in Medicine, March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, EB Wilson Award in Cell Biology, Vanderbilt Prize for mentoring, McEwen Award for Innovation in Stem Cell Research and the Clowes Award for Cancer Research. Fuchs is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society, National Academy of Medicine, American Philosophical Society and European Molecular Biology Organization. She holds honorary doctorates from University of Illinois and Harvard University. She is past-President of American Society for Cell Biology and International Society for Stem Cell Research, and serves on the NYAS Board of Governors and Board of Trustees of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. She’s published >350 articles and trained >100 graduate students and postdocs, most now at academic universities and medical schools. Her latest work continues to use skin as her model to investigate how tissue stem cells survive under duress, including wounds, inflammation and cancer-causing genetic mutations.

"TISSUE STEM CELLS: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST"

Barrier epithelial tissues such as the skin, lung and gut are the first line of defense between our body and the outside world. As such, their stem cells must continually generate and rejuvenate their tissue, but also self-renew to maintain the reservoir of stem cells. When the barrier has been breached, for example by wounding, the stem cells must not only repair the damaged tissue but also call to the immune system to help guard against pathogen entry. All the while the stem cells must protect themselves from a variety of assaults, including not only injury but also mechanical stress, noxious chemicals, ultraviolet radiation, and allergens that stimulate an inflammatory response. How do stem cells equip themselves to respond to these different stresses? My laboratory uses mice as a model organism and the skin epithelium as our tissue to explore the molecular mechanisms involved.  We use high throughput genetic and genomic approaches to learn at a molecular level how the stem cells balance growth and differentiation in normal tissue homeostasis, and how they change their behavior and interactions with their neighbors (the stem cell ‘niche’) in response to changes in their environment. Our global objective is to apply our knowledge of the basic science of epithelial stem cells to unfold new avenues for therapeutics to treat inflammatory conditions and cancers. 

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