Friday, July 17, 2009

Dr. Robin Herlands, Professor at Nevada State College to Talk - Wednesday, July 22nd - NevBio Mtg

Robin Herlands earned her PhD in Immunology at Yale University and a BS in Biology at Haverford College where she was also the Captain and MVP of the Field Hockey team.

She joined Nevada State College in July 2008 as an Assistant Professor of Biology. In addition to her teaching, she has been mentoring students for graduate school in microbiology, genetics, and immunology. She is currently completing summer research in collaboration with at UNLV with intentions of bringing some undergraduate research opportunities to NSC.

Her presentation "Bringing Biotechnology to the Classroom" will address the necessity of teaching Nevada students experimental approaches and practical techniques in the field.

July 22nd, Wednesday, 11:30 check-in; Lunch & Presentation at Noon. Cost is $35. Make checks payable to NevBio. All credit cards taken at the door or online.

Measuring Metabolic Rate: John Lighton's Presentation to NevBio

John Lighton, CEO of Las Vegas-based Sable Systems, spoke at the May 27th NevBio meeting about measuring metabolic rate. Lighton said that the measurement of metabolic rate can aid future medical and scientific developments in the areas of exercise and fitness, reperfusion injury, suspended animation, discovery science, and obesity and diabetes.

Sable Systems specializes in indirect calorimetry, the best way to determine human metabolic rate. Direct calorimetry, discovered by Antoine and Marie-Ann Lavoisier, is best for measuring the metabolic rates of smaller animals. To calculate metabolic rate, indirect caliometry measures the oxygen consumed and the CO2 produced by the subject. Studies in indirect calorimetry have revealed that there is a very small range between when the body is burning fat alone vs. when the body is burning carbs alone. If people want to lose weight, they must burn fat deposits in their body; if they are exercising at too high of an intensity, they are subsequently burning only carbs and not exercising in the correct way to lose weight.

Lighton also advocates the use of the fruit fly Drosophila to study reperfusion injury. Strokes are the most common reperfusion injuries, damage that occurs after tissue is cut off from oxygen and then re-exposed. He explained that the lack of oxygen is not the problem, but the reperfusion of oxygen is. 83% of Drosophila genes match human genes, and studying reperfusion in fruit flies makes for accurate and cheap ways to address this problem in humans. Scientists can also use fruit flies to study obesity and fat storage, aging and senescence, diabetes and insulin-related issues, gene expression, cell proliferation and apoptosis, stem cells, heart disease, and psychological disorders.

Metabolic rate measurements are also currently used in experiments in suspended animation at Roth Lab in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle. Suspended animation is the slowing down of life processes, such as breathing and heartbeat, through external sources. Suspended animation is induced by adding hydrogen sulfide to air, to produce a semi-hiberation state. In this state, the body temperature and metabolic rate drop. Research is still being developed in suspended animation for humans. Suspended animation would be especially helpful on the battlefield in keeping soldiers alive longer until they can receive the appropriate medical care.

Discovery science in the area of metabolic rate is rapidly developing, exploring the speculative applications of respirometry and osteopathic manipulation. Commissioned scientific research for the Department of Defense, DARPA is exploring much of the open options in relation to metabolic rate.

Measuring metabolic rate is extremely relevant to today's obesity epidemic. These measurements can be used to combat the epidemic. For scientists to understand how fat storage is controlled, they must research animal models other than humans. To halt the epidemic, scientists need to determine the root causes and address biological solutions. Ability to measure the metabolic rate is a helpful tool for balancing energy intake against energy expenditure, better enabling scientists to explore options for slowing down this nation-wide epidemic.

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute and Cleveland Clinic Team Up

In February 2009, the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute and Cleveland Clinic announced their partnership, forming the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The center's goal is to combat degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson, and provide medical care for patients. The center also has a program to provide support for caregivers.

At the February 17th press conference, Dr. Randolph Schiffer, Director of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Brain Health, said "These disorders change the social fabric of these families. The future of brain health clinics is changing. These centers must go beyond the diagnosis, providing ongoing care and support to patients and caregivers. If the Ruvo Center wants to provide quality care, it must evaluate existing programs and integrate the best of the best." Which programs the center will utilize remains undetermined, Schiffer said.

Cleveland Clinic's Center for Brain Health has operations in Cleveland. It is focused on research and will provide an integrated treatment program to about 200 patients and their families at the Cleveland and Las Vegas locations. Cleveland Clinic also has operations in Florida and Abu Dhabi and might expand its brain treatment to those locations also.

Sable Systems: Furthering Biotechnology in Nevada

Sable Systems International was founded by scientists and teachers in 1987. Sable Systems creates products for scientists by scientists, selling general research instrumentation suitable for field work or laboratory research at a low cost. More than three-fourths of their sales comes from instruments that measure the consumption of oxygen in both organisms and inanimate materials. Their instruments, cited in all of the leading scientific journals, are used worldwide and in all the leading universities and research institutes. With only 14 employees, the company is entirely self-funded and headquartered in both Las Vegas and Berlin.