Calendar of Events

Upcoming Seminars

Seminar 9

Date: December 4, 2013, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Topic: "Programmable Nanotherapeutics and Human Organs on Chips"

Dr. Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.,
Founding Director & Core Faculty Member
Platform Leader, Biomimetic Microsystems
Wyss Institute

Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology,
Harvard Medical School
Boston Children's Hospital

Professor of Bioengineering
Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Science

Previous Seminars

Seminar 1

Date: October 3, 2007, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

"Diet and Heart Disease: The Seven Countries and Beyond" [view presentation slides>>]
Dr. Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H., Harvard University Medical School, Boston, MA

Studies of different populations worldwide and of migrants from low- to high-risk regions indicate that coronary heart disease (CHD) is potentially almost entirely preventable. Mechanistic studies during the last decade have indicated that many biological pathways can lead to CHD, and the opportunities for prevention have thus been expanded.

Smoking accounts for about one third of myocardial infarctions in Western countries, and overweight and obesity contribute similarly. Reducing intake of total fat as a percent of calories is not an effective means for prevention, but multiple lines of evidence indicate that the type of dietary fat has a major impact on risk of CHD. Intake of trans fat from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils most strongly increases the risk, saturated fat is weakly associated with greater risk, monounsaturated fats moderately decrease risk, and polyunsaturated fats strongly decrease risk. Both N-6 and N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids contribute to lower risk. The form of dietary carbohydrate also appears to influence risk of CHD importantly; highly refined starches are related to increased risk, but consumption of whole-grain, high-fiber cereal products have consistently been associated with lower risks. Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables contributes to lower risk, probably by multiple mechanisms. Many issues remain to be settled, including the optimal mix of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, the optimal amounts of N-3 and N-6 fatty acids, the amount and source of protein, and the effects of antioxidants, other phytochemicals and minerals. From our long-term studies, we have calculated that modest dietary changes, together with avoidance of smoking, regular physical activity, and maintenance of a healthy body weight can reduce rates of coronary heart disease by over 80%. Failure to take advantage of dietary and lifestyle means of preventing these diseases represents a tremendous lost opportunity for improved health and wellbeing.


Seminar 2

Date: February 6, 2008, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

"Discrete roles of apoA-I and apoE in the biogenesis of HDL species: Lessons learned from adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in apoA-I-deficient mice." [view recording of presentation>>]
Dr. Vassilis Zannis, Ph.D. , Professor of Biochemistry, Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA

Using adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in apoA-I-deficient mice, we have established that apoA-I mutations inhibit discrete steps in a pathway that leads to the biogenesis and remodeling of HDL. To this point, five discrete categories of apoA-I mutants have been characterized that may affect the interactions of apoA-I with ABCA1 or LCAT or may influence the plasma PLTP activity or may cause various forms of dyslipidemia.Biogenesis of HDL is not a unique property of apoA-I. Using adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of apoE in apoA-I- or ABCA1-deficient mice, we have established that apoE also participates in a novel pathway of biogenesis of apoE-containing HDL particles. This process requires the functions of the ABCA1 lipid transporter and LCAT and it is promoted by substitution of hydrophobic residues in the 261 to 269 region of apoE by Ala.The apoE-containing HDL particles formed in the circulation may have atheroprotective properties. ApoE-containing HDL may also have important biological functions in the brain that confer protection from Alzheimer’s disease.


Seminar 3

Date: October 29, 2008, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Non-Invasive Molecular Imaging, Lessons from Invading Leukocytes
Dr. Ali Hafezi-Moghadam M.D., PH.D.
Assistant Professor of Harvard Medical School
Principal Investigator, Angiogenesis Laboratory at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Dr. Hafezi-Moghadam leads the Angiogenesis Laboratory at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary where he studies blood vessel barriers in the retina relative to diabetic retinopathy.

Non-invasive detection of molecular events in a living organism can revolutionize medicine. The eye provides a unique portal for visible-light-based imaging of retinal micro-vessels. This work shows, for the first time, non-invasive detection of endothelial injury in the retinal and choroidal vessels of a living animal at an early stage – one that was previously only detectable by most sensitive tests, such as immunohistochemistry or PCR. To achieve this goal we have developed imaging agents – adhesion-molecule conjugated microspheres – which mimic certain aspects of leukocyte endothelial interaction. Binding of these microspheres to the vascular endothelium provides indication of early disease.
Detection of early endothelial changes during disease would provide physicians with the possibility of earlier therapeutic interventions and, most importantly, prior to the occurrence of irreversible tissue damage. The outreach of the new technology is not limited to the eye. The eye’s vasculature provides a window for imaging, a representative picture of the systemic condition. The retina, being a part of the brain, provides a unique visual access to the barrier-privileged vessels of the central nervous system that might also teach us about the vascular status of the brain. Importantly, conventional techniques of brain and retinal imaging visualize only tissue changes. The techniques introduced in the present work extend our imaging capabilities to the molecular level. Besides being a powerful research tool, this versatile imaging approach holds promise of being useful in the clinical realm and impacting the way we practice medicine.


  • Miyahara et al. In vivo imaging of endothelial injury in choriocapillaris during endotoxin-induced uveitis. FASEB J (2008).
  • Noda et al. Inhibition of vascular adhesion protein-1 suppresses endotoxin-induced uveitis. The FASEB Journal (2007)
  • Hafezi-Moghadam et al. VLA-4 blockade suppresses endotoxin-induced uveitis: in vivo evidence for functional integrin up-regulation. FASEB J (2007) vol. 21 (2) pp. 464-74
  • Hafezi-Moghadam et al. A novel mouse-driven ex vivo flow chamber for the study of leukocyte and platelet function. Am J Physiol, Cell Physiol (2004) vol. 286 (4) pp. C876-92
  • Hafezi-Moghadam et al. L-selectin shedding regulates leukocyte recruitment. J Exp Med (2001) vol. 193 (7) pp. 863-72

Seminar 4

Date: February 25, 2009, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Modification of the Heart: Lessons Learned from Mice and Pythons
Dr. Leslie Leinwand, Ph.D.
Chair of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder
Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

Dr. Leinwand's work at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a cardiac biologist is of importance to basic scientists and clinicians. Trained as a molecular geneticist, Dr. Leinwand works on fundamental processes such as gene mapping, gene organization and promoter function, and RNA transcription.

Seminar 5

Date: March 3, 2010, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

"Charting the Fate of the 'Good Cholesterol' - Characterization of the HDL Receptor SR-BI and its influence on Coronary Heart Disease"
Monty Krieger, Ph.D., Whitehead Professor of Molecular Genetics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Biology, Cambridge, MA

Lipoproteins play a critical role in controlling the transport and metabolism of lipids, such as cholesterol. The metabolism of plasma lipoproteins, especially LDL ('bad' cholesterol) and HDL ('good' cholesterol), can profoundly influence atherosclerosis, which is a major cause of coronary heart disease and stroke. The LDL receptor-mediated control of plasma LDL levels has been well-defined by the seminal work of Brown and Goldstein. More recently investigations have established that a distinct receptor for HDL, the scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI), plays an important role in controlling HDL metabolism. SR-BI binds HDL tightly and mediates the selective uptake of its lipids into cells. The mechanism of selective lipid uptake is fundamentally different from that of classic receptor-mediated uptake via coated pits and vesicles (e.g., the LDL receptor pathway). Results of analyses of the in vitro mechanism of action and in vivo function of SR-BI will be reviewed.

Dr. Krieger's lab is using genetic, biochemical,physiologic, chemical genetics and cell and molecular biological methods to study cell surface receptor structure and function. He is focused on two categories of lipoprotein receptors because of their relevance to human biology and medicine. They are the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor and three classes of scavenger receptors, including the HDL receptor SR-BI.

Seminar 6

Date: December 8, 2010, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

"High-fat, Low-carb Diets and Cardiovascular Heath"
Dr. Jeff Volek, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, University Connecticut, Neag School of Education

Dr. Volek is perhaps the foremost researcher currently working in the field of high-fat, low-carbohydrate health and nutrition, and has written a popular book on his dietary approach to both.

Seminar 7

Date: October 19, 2011, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Speaker: Dr. Steve Goldstein, Ph.D., Provost of Brandeis
Host: Louis and Bessie Rosenfield Professor of Biochemistry Dr. Dan Oprian

Seminar 8

Date: April 25, 2012, 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Location: Gerstenzang 121, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Seminar 8: Dr. Garret FitzGerald, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Associate Dean for Translational Research, Chair Department of Pharmacology, Director, Institute for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics
Host: Dr. John Lowenstein, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry

Topic: Translational Therapeutics of Nonsteroidal Antinflammatory Drugs

Abstract: Eicosanoids have pleiotropic effects on human biology and drugs that disrupt their synthesis or action have demonstrated utility in the treatment of pain and inflammation in conditions as diverse as asthma and arthritis. Nonsteroidal antinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) act high up in the prostaglandin cascade and have been associated with serious cardiovascular and gastrointestinal adverse effects. Over the past decade, perhaps the most diverse lines of evidence supportive of a mechanism of drug action have been accumulated to elucidate the primary mechanism by which NSAIDs confer a cardiovascular hazard, disruption of COX-2 dependent formation of prostacyclin (PGI2). This mechanism is further amplified by secondary effects, including substrate rediversion to other pathways of eicosanoid metabolism, restraint of oxidant stress, disruption of endothelial NOS expression and function and dysregulation of the formation of activated protein C. The differential regulatory response to this information – voluntary and mandatory withdrawl of rofecoxib and valdecoxib respectively, failure to approve etoricoxib, continued availability of diclofenac and meloxicam and continued availability and expanded direct to consumer advertising of celecoxib – seems not to be grounded in either rationality or science. A scientific challenge is to develop algorhythms predictive of therapeutic response and existing or emerging risk at the individual level, better to conserve the value of such drugs rather than to subject their availability to issues of expediency, political influence and chance.