May 16, 2008

Discovery Lecture to explore cholesterol’s impact on learning

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David Russell, Ph.D.

Discovery Lecture to explore cholesterol’s impact on learning

In the last Discovery Lecture of the spring semester, David Russell, Ph.D., the chair of Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will highlight his research on cholesterol's critical role in the brain.

The lecture, “Cholesterol and Learning: Expect the Unexpected,” will be held at 4 p.m., Thursday, May 22, in 208 Light Hall.

Russell's research focuses on fat (lipid) metabolism, specifically the enzymes and genes that convert cholesterol into bile acids, the water-soluble compounds required for the absorption of dietary vitamins and lipids from the small intestine.

His group is currently investigating one particular enzyme, cholesterol 24-hydroxylase, which is responsible for cholesterol turnover in the brain. Russell's team has shown that mice deficient in this enzyme and turnover pathway fail to learn and exhibit profound abnormalities in behavior and brain function.

Russell, who has received numerous awards from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, Texas Instruments, and the Endocrine Society, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

For a complete schedule of the Discovery Lecture Series and archived video of previous lectures, go to