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NAPPSS Virtual Seminars


September 2021

9/2/21 - Perinatal Exercise and Epigenetics

Dr. Jun Seok Son, PhD - Assistant Professor, Laboratory of Perinatal Kinesioepigenetics, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Dr. Junseok Son in Department of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences is going to introduce his research topics and interests. His research focuses on the impact of maternal exercise, obesity and other physiological environments on fetal development and offspring health, emphasizing the epigenetic modification linking nutrients/metabolites to stem (progenitor) cell differentiation into myocytes/adipocytes. Ultimately, we aim to translate our work into clinical practice with respect to improving health outcomes for mothers and children affected by obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

October 2021

10/7/21 - Molecular mechanism of opioid binding and unbinding from mu-opioid receptor

Dr. Jana Shen, PhD - Professor - Codirector, Computer-Aided Drug Design Center, American Chemical Society COMP Division Chair 2022, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

The Shen group develops and applies molecular simulation tools to advance the understanding of structure-function relationships and facilitate the design of novel therapeutics as well as functional materials. Recent tool development allows accurate assessment of reactive cysteine and lysine sites in kinases for targeted covalent inhibitor design. Most recent application studies include the structure-function relationship of coronavirus proteases and agonists/antagonist binding/unbinding at the mu-opioid receptor. In this talk, I will discuss our recent progress in providing atomic level understanding of the binding/unbinding mechanism and kinetics of fentanyl derivatives and naloxone at the mu-opioid receptor.

November 2021

11/4/21 - Precision disease modeling in Drosophila

Dr. Zhe Han, PhD - Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Director, Center for Precision Disease Modeling, University of Maryland

Dr. Zhe (Zion) Han is a fly geneticist focused on using Drosophila to model human diseases, discover disease mechanism, and develop mechanism-based therapeutics. Dr. Han’s lab studies a broad range of diseases with a focus on the heart and kidney. They are the first to develop a high-throughput functional validation system for candidate congenital heart disease genes in Drosophila. They are also the first lab conducting a genome-wide screen for genes required for kidney filtration function, and the first lab generating personalized renal disease models in flies.

December 2021

12/2/21 - From SWELL to PAC: Discovery of New Chloride Channels

Dr. Zhaozhu Qiu, PhD - Associate Professor, Departments of Physiology and Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Cl− channels play fundamental roles in physiology and their dysfunctions cause many human diseases. However, they are relatively under-studied compared to cation channels as elucidation of their molecular identity has lagged behind. My laboratory has been on the forefront of identifying the molecular identity of novel Cl− channels and elucidating their role in physiology and disease. Using innovative high-throughput assays and unbiased RNAi screens, we have recently discovered novel membrane proteins SWELL1 (LRRC8) forming the long sought-after Volume-Regulated Anion Channel (VRAC) and PAC (TMEM206) as the Proton-Activated Cl− (PAC) channel. Both channel activities have been observed in a wide range of tissues for nearly 30 years, but their identities were mysteries. Discovery of these novel ion channels creates unprecedented opportunities for studying their regulatory mechanism, physiological function and disease involvement.

January 2022

1/6/22 - TBA

February 2022

2/3/22 - TBA

March 2022

3/3/22 - TBA

April 2022

4/7/22 - TBA

May 2022

5/5/22 - TBA

June 2022

1/2/22 - TBA


December 2020

12/10/20 - Calcium Signaling Microdomains in Vascular Disorders

Dr. Swapnil K. Sonkusare, Assistant Professor, Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia - School of Medicine
Vascular dysfunction is a hallmark of vascular disorders, including hypertension. Studies over the last decade suggest that calcium signaling microdomains in the vascular walls maintain normal vascular function. We propose a novel paradigm that abnormal calcium signaling microdomains contribute to vascular dysfunction and elevate blood pressure. In this talk, I will present the mechanisms that underlie abnormal calcium signaling microdomains in obesity and pulmonary hypertension. (Physiology)

January 2021

01/14/20 - Uncovering Novel Roles for G-protein Coupled Receptors in the Kidney and Cardiovascular System

Dr. Jennifer Pluznick, Associate Professor of Physiology, Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Our lab aims to uncover the physiological role of ‘understudied’ G-protein coupled receptors in the kidney and the cardiovascular system.  Some of the receptors we study are activated by gut microbial metabolites, and thus this presentation will also touch on the role of the gut microbiome to modulate host physiology. (Physiology)

February 2021

2/11/21 - Regulation of Mitochondrial Calcium Uptake

Dr. Vivek Garg, Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Mitochondria are multifunctional organelles. Besides producing ATP, they regulate many cellular functions and communicate bidirectionally with the rest of the cell using several messengers, namely Ca2+, redox and metabolic intermediates. My lab is focused on signaling pathways that facilitate Ca2+ transport across the inner membrane of mitochondria. In this talk, I will discuss how one of these pathways, called Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter (MCU), is regulated. (Physiology)

March 2021

3/11/21 - Characterising Voltage-Gated Calcium Channel Isoforms in Human Tissues

Dr. Elizabeth Tunbridge, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom
Voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) genes are large and encode functionally-distinct calcium channels via transcriptional mechanisms, particularly alternative splicing. We have used novel technical approaches to characterize the profiles of full-length VGCC isoforms in human tissues, with a particular focus on brain. Our aim is to use this information to better understand genetic associations with psychiatric disorders and to identify new therapeutic targets for these disorders. (Physiology)

April 2021

4/8/21 - Building the Human Brain? From Embryos to Organoids

Dr. Paola Arlotta PhD, Chair, Harvard Department of Stem cell and Regenerative Biology, Golub Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard Institute (PIN) The Arlotta lab seeks to define the molecular rules that shape and retain neuronal diversity in the cerebral cortex, and to model complex human cortical pathology, focusing on the development of new high-throughput in vitro models of human cortical development and neurodevelopmental disease using 3D cerebral organoids.

May 2021

5/6/21 - Molecular Regulation and Dysregulation of Polycystin-2

Dr. Paul DeCaen, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
Dr. Paul DeCaen is an ion channel biologist at Northwestern University. He received his training in structural biology and biophysics at University of Washington and Harvard Medical School. Prior to his academic carrier, he worked as professional scientist for Pfizer Research and Development. He is a Gottschalk Scholar, and has published more than twenty articles in journals such as Nature, PNAS, Cell, eLife and EMBO. His lab is focused on the molecular biophysics of voltage-gated sodium channels and TRP channels, whose dysregulation is associated with human diseases. In this talk, he will discuss the structural regulation of polycystin TRP channels and his efforts to understand their dysfunction in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). (Physiology)

5/13/21 - Cholinergic Determinants of Striatal Pathophysiology in Parkinson’s Disease

Dr. James Surmeier, PhD, Chair, Department of Physiology, Nathan Smith Davis Professor Physiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (PIN)
Research in the Surmeier lab revolves around the question of how neuromodulators shape the excitability of basal ganglia and frontal cortex neurons. These two areas share a rich monoaminergic innervation arising from the mesencephalon and medulla. Disorders in monoaminergic signaling in these forebrain structures have been implicated in a wide variety of psychomotor disorders including Parkinson's disease, dystonia, Huntington's disease, schizophrenia, drug abuse, depression and Tourette's syndrome.

June 2021

6/3/21 - More than a Pore: Ca2+ Channels as Organizers of Synapse Assembly

Dr. Amy Lee, PhD, Professor Department of Neuroscience, University of Texas-Austin
In nerve terminals, voltage-gated Cav Ca2+ channels play prominent roles in mediating Ca2+ signals that trigger neurotransmitter release. However, components of the Cav channel complex can serve as synaptogenic molecules, coalescing the various facets of the active zone in a manner that is largely independent of the Ca2+ influx through these channels. This seminar will review our current understanding of the Ca2+-dependent and Ca2+-independent functions of Cav channels in organizing the first synapse in the visual pathway.

6/10/21 - Transcriptional and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Addiction

Dr. Eric Nestler, PhD, Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs, Director Friedman Brian Institute, Professor in Neuroscience, Pharmacological Sciences and Psychiatry (PIN)