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New UH lecture series examines impact of science on health

HOUSTON, April 4, 2012 A new lecture series at the University of Houston (UH) will give Houstonians an opportunity to learn how science is making a difference in health and medicine. The first of five lectures will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 25 at the Hilton University of Houston.

The theme of the evening series will be "Science Impacting Health and Society" and will focus on diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Sponsored by the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM), the Friends of NSM Distinguished Lecture Series will feature leading scientists and physicians addressing breakthroughs in science that are altering the prevention and diagnosis of disease, treatment modalities and delivery of medical care. All lectures are on the UH campus and are free and open to the public.

The first lecture, "Toward a New Generation of Therapies for Diabetes, Obesity and Muscular Disease," will be led by Bruce M. Spiegelman, a professor of cell biology and medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. Spiegelman will discuss his research team's recent discovery of a novel hormone secreted from muscle cells that triggers some of the key health benefits of exercise. The protein, given the name irisin, is a promising candidate for development as a treatment for diabetes, obesity and possibly other disorders.

"Each year, the series will focus on a central theme and include five to six lectures delivered by leading experts and eminent scholars," said Mark A. Smith, NSM dean. "Through this annual lecture series, we want to share science breakthroughs with the community and give Houstonians a front-row seat to developments impacting medical care, energy, the environment and daily living."

The other lectures in the inaugural 2012 series will be held at the Rockwell Pavilion in UH's M.D. Anderson Library:

  • Tuesday, May 15: "Heart Making and Heart Breaking: New Strategies for Heart Repair" by Eric N. Olson, professor and chair of molecular biology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

  • Tuesday, Sept. 25: "Hormones in Health and Disease" by Dr. Jan-ke Gustafsson, biochemistry professor and director of the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling at the University of Houston

  • Tuesday, Oct. 23: "Improving Prediction of Heart Attack Risk" by Ioannis Kakadiaris, computer science professor and director of the Computational Biomedicine Lab at the University of Houston

  • Tuesday, Nov. 27: "Regenerating Damaged Heart Muscle: Using Stem Cells and Systems Biology to Discover Drug Targets" by Mark Mercola, professor and director of the Muscle Development and Regeneration Program at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

For more information, visit


Contact: Lisa Merkl
University of Houston

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