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Global workshop explores basement membrane research

Jul. 18, 2019, 8:26 AM

Last week’s workshop drew dozens of basement membrane scientists from around the world.
Last week’s workshop drew dozens of basement membrane scientists from around the world. (photo by Joe Howell)

by Bill Snyder

An international workshop on basement membranes hosted last week by Vanderbilt University Medical Center attracted about 70 scientists from around the world. The three-day workshop was co-sponsored by the American Society of Matrix Biology.

The basement membrane is a specialized form of extracellular matrix that fills the space between cells, and which binds cells together to fashion functional tissue. Defects in its building blocks can lead to a wide variety of disorders, from heart, skin and kidney disease to blindness and cancer.

Cynthia Reinhart-King, PhD, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, gave the keynote address on July 10 on the role of “matrix stiffening” in vascular function.

Roy Zent, PhD, MBBCh, the Thomas F. Frist Sr. Professor of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, co-chaired the meeting with Jeffrey Miner, PhD, professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

The speakers represented universities from throughout the United States and Europe as well as Israel, Australia, China and Japan. Ten of the 35 speakers were from Vanderbilt University, which demonstrates the breadth and depth of the research being conducted through the Vanderbilt Center for Matrix Biology, Zent said.

The meeting was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and by the Vanderbilt Center for Matrix Biology.

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