September 6, 2002

Gene expression symposium is Oct. 12-15 at Vanderbilt

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Mark M. Davis, Ph.D.

Gene expression symposium is Oct. 12-15 at Vanderbilt

Peng Liang, Ph.D.

Peng Liang, Ph.D.

Like the “code breakers” of World War II, today’s scientists are scanning the human genome to better understand normal development and what goes wrong in diseases like cancer.

During the past 30 years, a host of technologies has been developed to determine which genes are expressed, or turned on, under certain circumstances. The genetic message is interpreted, passed along and ultimately implemented by a vast array of molecules called proteins.

Many of the new technologies monitor levels of messenger RNA, a molecule that helps build proteins according to their genetic instructions. This information can be used to generate patterns of gene expression that are unique for different tissues and disease states. Other technologies, notably mass spectrometry, measure levels of proteins — another way to monitor gene expression.

Differences in these gene expression patterns now are being used to help diagnose disease, and to look for new drugs that can stop disease more effectively.

Next month Vanderbilt University Medical Center will host an international symposium on “differential” gene expression.

Inventors and leaders of cutting-edge technologies including microarrays, differential display, serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE), massive parallel signature sequencing (MPSS), “imaging” mass spectrometry and RNA interference (RNAi) will present the latest improvements and applications.

The symposium will be held at the Marriott Hotel at Vanderbilt on Oct. 12-15.

Mark M. Davis, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University, will deliver a keynote address on the discovery of the T-cell receptor, which plays a pivotal role in immune responses.

Other speakers include David Lockhart, Ph.D., president and chief scientific officer of Ambit Biosciences; Thomas Gingeras, Ph.D., vice president of biological research at Affymetrix Inc.; Arthur B. Pardee, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School; John Quackenbush, Ph.D., investigator at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Md.; and Lin Zhang, Ph.D., who contributed to the invention of the SAGE technique at the Johns Hopkins University Oncology Center.

Thomas Vasicek, Ph.D., vice president of Lynx Therapeutics Inc., will discuss MPSS for in-depth gene expression profiling; and Reuven Agami, Ph.D., research group leader at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, will describe the development of the first mammalian expression vector for RNAi for transcriptional silencing of genes.

Peng Liang, Ph.D., associate professor of Cancer Biology at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and co-inventor with Pardee of the differential display methodology for cloning differentially expressed genes, organized and chairs the symposium, titled “Differential Gene Expression 2002.”

Liang will discuss a number of advances in differential display during the past decade, including refinement and automation of fluorescent differential display (FDD), his group’s recent discovery of cancer-associated protein interleukin-24 and its receptors, and the identification of novel target genes linked to the expression of the tumor suppressor gene p53.

Richard Caprioli, Ph.D., Stanley Cohen Professor of Biochemistry and director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center at Vanderbilt, will discuss the use of the matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometer to visualize where proteins are located in cells and tissues. The technique, called imaging mass spectrometry, can help identify potential protein markers in lesions and in various stages of disease progression.

Registration is required. The deadline for early

registration and submitting abstracts is Sept. 15.

For more information and to register, visit the symposium’s Web site at, or call the Vanderbilt Office of Continuing Medical Education at 322-4030.

The Nashville Marriott Hotel is located at 2555 West End Ave.