Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday March 25th, 7:30pm at The Railway Club. Our speaker for the evening will be Elizabeth Simpson.  The title of her talk is:

“Fierce Mice” and “Good Viruses” are Impacting Brain Disorders

Mental illness accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in the developed world, which is higher than all cancers combined. Nevertheless, from a research perspective, these “brain and behaviour” disorders are relatively underserved. Combinations of both genetic and environmental factors cause brain and behaviour disorders, and the Simpson laboratory is focused on exploring the genetic cause.

Dr. Simpson’s group was the first to find that the human gene (NR2E1) can correct violent behaviour in the fierce mouse; a model of pathological aggression. NR2E1 is involved in controlling stem cell proliferation in the brain, and the Simpson group has found an association between this gene and bipolar disorder (manic-depressive psychosis), a brain illness that is usually diagnosed in late teens to early twenties, but likely initiates in childhood.

Working to open a new therapeutic door for mental illness and other brain disorders, Dr. Simpson is leading a large genomics project to build MiniPromoters; tools designed to deliver therapeutic genes to defined regions of the brain. This technology will enable virus-based-gene therapies for many different brain disorders regardless of the underlying cause. Thus, the Simpson laboratory is bringing new technologies to childhood and adult brain and behaviour disorders, all of which are underserved by traditional therapeutic approaches.


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