APR 11, 2016 09:00 AM PDT

WEBINAR: The epigenome in normal human placental development and its dysregulation in preeclampsia

SPONSORED BY: Zymo Research, Zymo Research
9 51 7884

  • Research Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Research Institute
      Dr. Jones was born in Cape Town, raised and attended college in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and received his Ph.D. from the University of London. He joined the University of Southern California in 1977 and served as Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center between 1993 and 2011. He is currently the Research Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His laboratory discovered the effects of 5-azacytidine on cytosine methylation and he first established the link between DNA methylation, gene expression and differentiation. He pioneered the field of epigenetics, particularly its role in cancer, and helped develop novel therapies for cancer. Dr. Jones is a past President of the American Association for Cancer Research and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the AACR in 2013. He has published more than 300 scientific papers and received several honors, including the Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Cancer Institute. He and his colleague Dr. Stephen Baylin shared the Kirk A. Landon Award for Basic Cancer Research from the AACR in 2009 and the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society in 2011.
    • Senior Research Fellow, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
        Dr. Than is director of the Systems Biology of Reproduction Laboratory at the Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest). He also holds appointments at the 1st Dept. of Pathology & Experimental Cancer Research and Maternity Clinic, Semmelweis University (Budapest, Hungary) and Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA). His work focuses on placental development and disease pathways of pregnancy complications using tools of high-dimensional and systems biology. His pivotal findings include the: molecular characterization of placental proteins - including the determination of 91 sequences in 15 species - and their study as biomarkers; the discovery of a placenta-specific galectin family important in regulating maternal-fetal immune interactions in primates; and the systems biological characterization of disturbed placental gene networks in preeclampsia, including a newly-defined pathway of deep trophoblast invasion in humans. Dr. Than's multidisciplinary research is rooted in his experience in distinct fields. He obtained MD degree and then PhD in molecular biology at the University Medical School of Pécs (Hungary). He obtained board certification in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Semmelweis University. He had training in perinatal research at the Perinatology Research Branch of the NIH (Detroit, MI), where he became the Director of the Placental Laboratory and also an associate professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI). Dr. Than has 118 publications, 10 book chapters and conference reports, and holds 2 patents. He has served on the editorial boards of two journals, and has been a reviewer of >30 journals and 7 research agencies. His work has been supported by 14 grants and recognized by the "Promotio sub auspiciis praesidentis Rei Publicae" award (Hungary) and awards from the International Federation of Placental Associations, Japan Society of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, and NIH. He is the founder of a biotechnology company (Genesis Theranostix Ltd) that aims to develop novel prenatal diagnostics.

      9:00 AM PT, 11:00 AM CT, 12:00 PM ET

      Epigenetics defines the set of distinct and heritable molecular mechanisms able to influence gene expression without altering the primary genetic sequence. Common epigenetic factors include DNA modifications (methylation or hydroxymethylation), chromatin modifications (histone methylation or acetylation), and non-coding RNA expression (micro RNA or long non-coding RNA transcripts). The past decade has seen a marked increase in the number of scientific publications focusing on epigenetics research. As a result, the basic understanding as to how epigenetic pathways interact with diverse and consistently changing cellular environments to help regulate gene expression has grown as well. When normal epigenetic pathway function is disrupted, disease may result.

      This webinar highlights two specific areas of biomedical research in which the dysregulation of epigenetic mechanisms play prominent roles in disease etiology. The first presenter, Dr. Peter Jones, will discuss the complex role that epigenetics dysfunction plays in cancer progression and how recent findings suggest novel avenues to exploit for therapeutic development. The second presenter, Dr. Than, explains how the developing placenta can be influenced by the surrounding maternal environment and identifies altered DNA methylation patterns at specific gene loci associated with prenatal health indications. The potential role for disease diagnostics will also be discussed.

      Learning objectives:
      • Attendees will learn how epigenetics plays an important role in cancer and how those mechanisms might be exploited for therapeutic benefit.
      • Attendees will learn how epigenetics can influence prenatal health during pregnancy.

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