World-renowned neuroscientist Anne Young to speak on Huntington's disease March 24

Anne Young

Neuroscientist Anne Young

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(March 21, 2011)--The UTSA Neurosciences Institute and the UTSA Specialized Neuroscience Research program will host a distinguished public lecture, "Huntington's Disease: From Gene to Therapy," by Anne B. Young, Harvard Medical School Julieanne Dorn Professor of Neurology, at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, March 24 in the University Center Ballroom (1.104) on the UTSA Main Campus. A half-hour reception will precede the lecture; both are free and open to the public.

The lecture will explore the clinical, genetic, pathological and pathogenic mechanisms of Huntington's disease and how current research is contributing to treatments for the disease.

Approximately 250,000 Americans either have or are at risk for Huntington's disease, an inherited degenerative disorder that affects the brain's basal ganglia and slowly causes patients to lose their motor and reasoning skills until they are unable to care for themselves. Because no cure exists for the fatal disease, which affects men and women equally, physicians generally work to manage the symptoms of Huntington's disease patients.

A medical doctor and research scientist by training, Young is globally known and respected for a three-decade research career that has led to improved understanding and treatments for Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases. Her research focuses on the neurochemistry and neuroanatomy of dexterity, coordination, and rhythmogenesis and has been featured in top neuroscience journals including Journal of Neuroscience, Movement Disorders and Current Opinion in Neurology and Neurosurgery.

In 1983, Young was one of two clinicians who traveled with a research team to a remote Venezuelan jungle to study a large, isolated family with an extremely high incidence of Huntington's disease. The team uncovered a biomarker that is prevalent in individuals afflicted by the disease. That discovery led the team to identify the gene responsible for the onset of the Huntington's disease gene.

More recently, Young and her husband John Penney Jr. (now deceased) collaborated to provide the most widely cited model demonstrating the function of the basal ganglia. The model has provided the foundation for additional research on Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases, advancing the scientific community's overall understanding of both.

Young earned her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in pharmacology at Johns Hopkins, where she researched excitatory neurotransmission in the cerebral cortex, before completing her residency in neurology at UC San Francisco in neurology and movement disorders. After serving on the University of Michigan faculty for 13 years, she joined Massachusetts General Hospital as chief of its neurology service, becoming the first woman to join the hospital as a department chief and the first female chief of neurology at any teaching hospital in the United States.

She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine and the American Association of Arts and Sciences and is past president of the Society of Neuroscience and American Neurological Association.

To learn more about the lecture, visit the UTSA Neurosciences Institute website.

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About the UTSA Neuroscience Institute

The UTSA Neurosciences Institute is a multidisciplinary research organization for integrated brain studies. The institute's mission is to foster a collaborative community of scientists committed to studying the biological basis of human experience and behavior, and the origin and treatment of nervous system diseases. Its areas of focus include nervous system development; neuronal and network computation; sensory, motor and cognitive function; learning and memory, and the disease processes that impact them; implementing mathematical and computational tools in experimental neurobiology; and mathematical theory of neurons and nervous systems. To learn more about the institute or to make a gift, visit the UTSA Neurosciences Institute website.

About UTSA

The University of Texas at San Antonio is one of the fastest growing higher education institutions in Texas and the third largest of nine academic universities and six health institutions in the UT System. As a multicultural institution of access and excellence, UTSA aims to be a national research university providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA serves more than 30,000 students in more than 130 degree programs in the colleges of Architecture, Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Honors, Liberal and Fine Arts, Public Policy, Sciences and the Graduate School. Founded in 1969, UTSA is an intellectual and creative resource center and a socioeconomic development catalyst for Texas and beyond. Learn more at the UTSA website.