The upcoming 9th annual “Glial-neuronal Interactions in Health and Disease” symposium will bring together nearly 200 neuroscientists — focused on neuron and glial cell interaction and its affect on diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) — to discuss the latest findings in this area of brain research.
The daylong symposium is to be held on Jan. 8, 2016, at the University of California, Riverside (UCR).
“Glia is the stuff in between neurons. Comprising nearly 90 percent of the cells within the central nervous system, they are needed to maintain the neural systems. Glia help guide where neurons can grow and they also edit the neurons. Classic neurologic problems are linked to glia failing to edit appropriately, adequately or correctly. If we want to predict the outcome of traumatic brain injury or if we want to predict susceptibility to or progression for spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia or autism, we have to monitor the glia,” Dr. Monica Carson, professor of biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine at UCR and organizer of the January symposium, said in a press release.
Through high-resolution in vivo imaging, researchers have observed that glial cells, previously thought to mainly provide structural and metabolic support to neurons, are constantly active in the healthy central nervous system. They play an active role in the maintenance of homeostasis, protection, monitorization, and modification of the neurons. Advancements in this area of brain research have found that glial cells may have a causative role in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases, including MS. Furthermore, data from the UCR Center for Glial-Neuronal Interactions (CGNI), directed by Dr. Carson, suggests that glial cells might be prime informers of traumatic brain injury, especially in cases where traditional diagnostic methods, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are unable to detect such injury.
The symposium’s keynote address will be given by Professor Matthew Neil Rasband, who holds the Vivian L. Smith Endowed Chair in Neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine, and the Glenn Hatton Lecture will be delivered by Professor Edwin W. Rubel from the University of Washington. That lecture honors the memory of Professor Glenn I. Hatton, an early and influential contributor to the field of glial-neuronal interactions.
The CGNI, founded in 2007, promotes the collaboration between researchers dedicated to the investigation of neuron and glial activity and interaction, and researchers from other fields.