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University of Chicago and Ataxia Foundation team up for annual scientific and patient meetings

The National Ataxia Foundation (NAF), in conjunction with the University of Chicago program in pathobiology and translational neuroscience, will hold its third annual Ataxia Investigators Meeting March 9-11, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, in Rosemont, Ill. A three-day meeting for patients, caregivers and families will follow at the same location.

A rare and poorly understood group of degenerative neurological disorders for which there is no effective treatment, ataxia affects an estimated 150,000 people in the United States. A disease of the cerebellum, ataxia robs it victims of their ability to coordinate movement. Symptoms can include lack of balance, loss of coordination and the ability to walk, spasms and spasticity. Many of those with ataxia also have fatigue, vision loss, and problems hearing, speaking and swallowing.

"Ataxia is less common than neuro-muscular and movement disorders such as Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis," said meeting organizer Christopher Gomez, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurology at the University of Chicago. "As a consequence, we know much less about ataxia," he added, "but that is changing rapidly. In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of genetic discovery that has revolutionized our understanding and approach to diagnosis of ataxia. Those insights should lead over time to better treatments."

This is one of the few scientific meetings focused entirely on ataxia and it brings together most of the leading investigators in this field. It's also a chance for well-informed patients who come to Chicago for the annual patient and family meeting to catch up on the latest research in this small but expanding specialty."

The NAF is a Minnesota-based not-for-profit organization that focuses on raising awareness and medical research funding for new treatments or a potential cure for of ataxia.

National Ataxia Foundation AIM 2010 - 3rd Ataxia Investigators' Meeting


7 PM Opening Remarks Christopher M. Gomez
KEYNOTE ADDRESS Christian Hansel, University of Chicago, "Cerebellar Learning and Connectivity"


8:00 AM Theme 1 Cerebellar Function (and episodic) Dysfunction
8:00 AM Episodic ataxias: an overview, Joanna C. Jen, UCLA
8:30 AM Episodic ataxias: physiological mechanisms, Ellen Hess, Emory University
9:00 AM The therapeutic mode of action of 4-AP in Episodic ataxia, K Khodakhah, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Theme 2 Molecular pathogenesis of autosomal dominant ataxias
10:00 AM SCA2 and SCA13, Stefan M. Pulst, University of Utah
10:30 AM SCA3, Henry L. Paulson, University of Michigan
11:00 AM SCA6, Christopher M. Gomez, University of Chicago
1:15 PM Invited Junior Lecturer Paula Ladd, University of California, San Diego
1:40 PM Invited Junior Lecturer Mirella Dottori, University of Melbourne
2:05 PM SCA7, Albert R. LaSpada, UCSD
2:35 PM SCA17, Xiao-Jiang Li, Emory University
3:30 PM SCA5 and SCA8, Laura PW Ranum, University of Minnesota
4:00 PM SCA10, Tee Ashizawa, University of Florida, Gainesville
4:30 PM Molecular pathophysiology of SCA14 caused by gamma PKC mutations, Norio Sakai, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan
5:00 PM Perspectives on dominant ataxia: insights from SCA1 that apply to other spinocerebellar ataxias, Harry T. Orr, University of Minnesota
5:30 PM KEYNOTE ADDRESS Richard Morimoto, Northwestern University, "The Proteostasis Challenge: The Stress of Misfolded Proteins in Aging and Disease"


Theme 3 Molecular pathogenesis of recessively inherited ataxias
8:00 AM KEYNOTE ADDRESS Keith Caldecott University of Sussex, "Defects in DNA Single-Strand Break Repair and 8:45 AM The function of ATM in the central nervous system: beyond DNA breaks, Karl Herrup, Rutgers University
9:15 AM Senataxin, defective in AOA2, protects against oxidative stress and transcription dysregulation, Martin F. Lavin, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane
9:45 AM Novel Recessive ataxias, Michel Koenig, Institut de Gntique, CNRS, Universit Louis-Pasteur
10:45 AM Overview of Friedreich's ataxia, Robert B. Wilson, University of Pennsylvania
11:15 AM Role of frataxin in iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis, Grazia Isaya, Mayo Clinic Rochester
11:45 Frataxin gene regulation and pathways affected by frataxin deficiency, Massimo Pandolfo, Brussels

Theme 4 Moving towards therapy: Novel strategies and outcomes measures in ataxia
1:45 PM Friedreich's ataxia: Mitochondrial therapeutics, Sidney M. Hecht, Biodesign Institute, ASU
2:15 PM Invited Junior Lecturer - Alain Martelli, Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire
2:40 PM Invited Junior Lecturer - Isabelle Iltis, University of Minnesota
3:05 PM Friedreich ataxia-5 Transcriptional enhancement with HDAC inhibitors, Joel M Gottesfeld, Scripps Institute, San Diego
4:00 PM Natural history studies and EuroSCA research network: 2010, Thomas Klockgether
4:30 PM Imaging correlates of SCA1 pathogenesis: From Biomarkers to Bioexplanations, Ana Solodkin, University of Chicago
5:00 PM MRS biomarkers for ataxias, Gulin Oz, CMRR, University of Minnesota.
5:30 PM Towards therapy for ataxia: how do we get there? Kurt Fischbeck, NINDS
6:00 PM Young Investigator Awards
7:00 PM KEYNOTE ADDRESS, Ole Isacson. Harvard University, "Stem cells and iPS cells: Paradigm shifts in cell therapeutics and discovery for neurodegenerative diseases


Contact: John Easton
University of Chicago Medical Center

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