August 31, 2007

Vanderbilt Genetics Symposium set

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Vanderbilt Genetics Symposium set

Some of the nation's leading experts on mitochondrial disease will participate in the 8th annual Vanderbilt Genetics Symposium Sept. 6 in the Children's Hospital theater.

The symposium, dubbed “Pirates of the Mitochondrion,” will include discussions of the genetics of mitochondrial disorders, and the important contributions of mitochondrial genetics to common diseases such as cancer.

Visiting faculty are Robert Navaiux, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at the University of California, San Diego; Jodi Nunnari, Ph.D., professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Davis; and Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D., director of the Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics at the University of California, Irvine.

Mitochondria are the “power plants” of the cell. They use the oxygen to release energy from food. They are involved in a host of other vital functions as well, including metabolism of cholesterol and neurotransmitters, synthesis of estrogen and testosterone and, in the liver, detoxification of ammonia.

More than 50 inherited diseases of metabolism are known to affect mitochondria. An estimated 1,000 to 4,000 children are born in the United States each year with a mitochondrial disease. Acquired defects in mitochondrial function have been linked to diseases of aging, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Parkinson's disease.

For more information, go to the Vanderbilt Center for Human Genetics (CHGR) Web site at and click on 2007 symposium, or call program coordinator Maria Comer at 322-7909, or faculty symposium coordinator Deborah Murdock, Ph.D., at 322-6325.