WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 Metabolism encompasses the biochemical reactions that sustain life and is usually thought of as two complementary systems: one that breaks down nutrients to generate energy and another that harnesses this energy to produce the building blocks cells need to thrive. Considering the fundamental importance of this chemical give-and-take, it's not surprising that metabolic dysfunctions can lead to serious diseases.
Next week, experts on metabolism will convene for a thematic program, at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's annual meeting at the Experimental Biology 2011 conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss scientific advances in understanding the links between metabolic function and the onset of disease. Theme organizers Barbara E. Corkey from the Boston University School of Medicine and Marc Prentki from the University of Montreal have invited an international team of scientists to present their recent findings on this medically important topic in Room 202B of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Mitochondrial Function and Disease: The first platform session will be held from 3:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and will focus on mitochondria, the "powerhouses" of cells, which generate ATP, the cell's basic unit of energy currency. In this session, two researchers, one from the University of Miami and another from McGill University, will present their research linking mitochondrial dysfunction to aging. A third presenter from Boston University will discuss studies with mice that have mitochondrial mutations that lead to obesity and hyperglycemia.
Workshop — Measuring Mitochondrial Function and Dysfunction: In addition to the regular platform sessions, this thematic program also will feature a workshop from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Participants can review the principles of measuring mitochondrial function and dysfunction and learn about the newest tools available in the field.
Metabolic Communication: The second round of talks, to be held from 9:55 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. Monday, will examine the role of communication between cells in age-related diseases as well as obesity and insulin resistance. The three talks will feature researchers from Emory University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Southern California Medical School.
Metabolic Signal Transduction: The third platform session in the program will be held from 3:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and will focus on how cells communicate their energy needs. Insulin acts like a fuel gauge for cells, signaling when the cell has too much or not enough energy, and works in concert with other chemical signals to maintain healthy cellular function. This session will feature research on three different metabolic signaling systems and their roles in obesity, diabetes and metabolic disease. Scientists from the University of Montreal, Boston University School of Medicine and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland will speak.
Metabolism and Cancer: The final round of talks, to be held from 9:55 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, will feature recent discoveries concerning metabolism and cancer. Metabolic processes are critical to the survival and growth of cancer cells, and exciting new research is investigating the metabolic functions that can contribute to cancer development and potential mechanisms for prevention. This session will include presentations by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto and McGill University.