» Science Forum Series

The Science Forum Series is an opportunity for faculty and special guests to present their latest research to the campus community. Each presentation is approximately 45 minutes to one hour in length. Feel free to drop in and leave as your schedule permits. 

+ - February 13, 2017


Talithia Williams, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College

Title: The Eyes Have It: Modeling Cataract Surgical Rates for Developing Countries
Chapman University, Argyros Forum 209A
Noon to 1 p.m.

Synopsis: Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness in Africa and planning for its treatment is a priority of the World Health Organization. 

The cataract surgical rate (CSR), the number of operations done per million population, is a convenient indicator for planning and monitoring. However, estimating what the CSR needs to be to eliminate blindness requires one to take into account a number of factors and assumptions. 

The recently developed Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) survey uses a population-proportional-to-size sampling technique to select a representative group of people over 50 years old to receive a standard eye exam. We use current data from RAAB surveys in Africa to model the epidemiology of cataract and to estimate cataract incidence at different age levels. 

In this talk, Dr. Williams describes her method of estimating incidence from prevalence and how this information can be used to help set target CSRs for various geographical locations in Africa, taking into account important differences among populations.

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+ - March 1, 2017


Henriette van Praag, Ph.D.
Investigator at Neuroplasticity and Behavior Unit
Laboratory of Neurosciences
National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health

Title: Regulation and Function of Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis: The Role of Exercise

Chapman University, Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall 404
Noon to 1 p.m.

Synopsis: Most neurons in the adult central nervous system are terminally differentiated and cannot be replaced when they die. However, research over the past two decades has shown that small populations of new neurons are generated in the mature olfactory bulb and the hippocampus. In the adult hippocampus, newly born neurons originate from putative stem cells that exist in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus. 

The production, survival and functional integration of newborn hippocampal cells can be upregulated by voluntary exercise in a running wheel in rodents. Enhanced adult hippocampal neurogenesis is correlated with increased synaptic plasticity in the dentate gyrus, improved spatial navigation and pattern separation in rodents, indicating that adult-born hippocampal cells play a role in cognition (Voss et al., 2013). 
These newly born neurons are an integral part of local intra-hippocampal circuits as well as more distal (sub)cortical networks. A recent focus of our research is to understand the functional contribution of the different structures that provide direct input to new neurons in the adult brain during their development, as well as the reorganization of new neuron networks by exercise (Vivar et al., 2016). 
Another important aspect of our research is to investigate the triggers of exercise induced changes in the brain. For these studies, we are researching the muscle-brain axis. Interestingly, compounds that activate energy metabolism pathways in muscle with AMP-kinase agonist AICAR (Narkar et al., 2008) can also benefit adult neurogenesis and memory function (Kobilo et al., 2011). 
Based on these concepts and findings we set out to identify factors that may be released into circulation from muscle (myokines) that influence brain function. Using proteomic analysis, we found elevated levels of Cathepsin B (CTSB) in conditioned medium derived from skeletal muscle cell cultures treated with AICAR. In cultured neural progenitor cells CTSB application enhanced expression of neurogenic markers. 
Analysis across species in mice, monkeys and humans showed that CTSB is upregulated in plasma with exercise. In humans, changes in CTSB levels correlated with fitness and hippocampus-dependent memory function (Moon et al., 2016). Ongoing studies pertaining to the peripheral effects of exercise on brain function will also be discussed.

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+ - April 19, 2017


Lars Tomanek, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Director
Environmental Proteomics Laboratory,
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Title: The Stress Proteome of the Mussel Mytilus

Chapman University
Noon to 1 p.m.

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