October 13, 2006

Dietz to speak on Marfan syndrome

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Dietz to speak on Marfan syndrome

Vanderbilt's Discovery Lecture Series continues this month with featured speaker Harry Dietz, M.D., on Thursday, Oct. 19.

Dietz, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will discuss “Marfan Syndrome and Related Disorders: From Molecules to Medicines” at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall. A reception in the student lounge will follow the lecture, which is free and open to the public.

Marfan syndrome is an inherited connective tissue disorder that affects about one in 5,000 individuals. It causes long-bone overgrowth, visual disturbances, emphysema, heart valve disorders and aortic aneurysm, predisposing patients to early vascular rupture and sudden death.

Dietz, the Victor A. McKusick Professor of Genetics and Medicine at Johns Hopkins, has studied Marfan syndrome as a way to gain a greater understanding of blood vessel biology and to identify signaling pathways that may be relevant to more common forms of aortic aneurysm.

His laboratory discovered that mutations in the gene fibrillin-1 cause Marfan syndrome and that the fibrillin-1 protein normally regulates the developmental signaling of the protein transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta).

Based on research by Dietz and his team, the National Institutes of Health is launching a multicenter clinical trial to assess the blood pressure medication losartan as a treatment for preventing aortic aneurysm in children with Marfan syndrome.

For a complete schedule of the Discovery Lecture Series and archived video of previous lectures, go to www.mc.vander-bilt.edu/discoveryseries.