June 8, 2007

Zambia meet to explore brain diseases

Featured Image

Stuart Finder, Ph.D.

Zambia meet to explore brain diseases

Researchers at Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College will participate in a workshop in Zambia on the burden of brain diseases June 13-15.

The workshop, hosted by the Middle Tennessee Chapter Society for Neuroscience, will present the latest research on brain disorders prevalent in resource-poor countries, establish interactions for future reciprocal training and research and foster the recruitment of trainees in the neurosciences.

“Americans will learn first-hand from local experts with vast clinical experiences … whereas Zambians will be informed of ongoing current research that is addressing some of these brain disorders,” said chapter president Sanika Chirwa, M.D., Ph.D. “This is a meaningful collaboration that can exploit the unique knowledge base offered by each group.”

The event, to be held in the capital city of Lusaka, will include three days of formal presentations and workshops on HIV/AIDS dementia, cerebral malaria, epilepsy and chronic depressive disorders.

Participating Vanderbilt researchers and their topics include:

• Michael Aschner, Ph.D., Stahlman Professor of Neuroscience, manganese neurotoxicity;

• Malcolm J. Avison, Ph.D., Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS), brain imaging and diagnosis;

• Nicole Garbarini, neuroscience graduate student, epilepsy;

• Efrain Garcia, Ph.D., VUIIS research fellow, depression;

• Sarah Owens, Ph.D., Pediatrics research fellow, autism; and

• Michael Siuta, M.D., Ph.D., student, emotions, immunity and HIV infection.

Participants from Meharry include Valerie Montgomery-Rice, M.D., MPH, dean of the Meharry School of Medicine; James Hildreth, M.D., Ph.D., who directs Meharry 's Comprehensive Center for Health Disparities Research in HIV; and Susan DeReimer, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical Sciences.

Chirwa, a native of Zambia and associate professor of Neurobiology and Neurotoxicology at Meharry and adjunct associate professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt, will deliver an overview on the global brain disease burden and discuss chronic depressive disorders. A two-week course in neuroscience will follow the workshop.

Funding for the meeting has been provided by the Society for Neuroscience, the International Brain Research Organization and by members and friends of the Middle Tennessee chapter. The chapter is seeking an additional $15,000 to fund graduate student travel and reimburse travel costs incurred by invited speakers.

For more information, view the chapter Web site at http://www.mtncsfn.org or contact Chirwa at schirwa@mmc.edu.