Every Wednesday Night, 50 Times a Year 7:00 p.m. in Room 1111, Genetics/Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall Parking available in Lot 20 at 1390 University Ave
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July 16: Medicine and Superstition in Ancient Greece
James McKeown, Classics
Much that the ancient Greeks believed about medicine still holds true today, but there were also many absurdities. Sometimes the distinction is obvious: few modern medicines contain bat’s blood, the gall of a wild boar or the roots of plants picked by a virgin at midnight with her left hand. At other times, however, the distinction is not so clear, and it is this gray area between fact and fantasy that this talk will explore.
Jim McKeown, a professor of classics at UW-Madison for the past 24 years, received his Ph.D. at Cambridge University, where he taught for 12 years before coming to Madison. He has written numerous books on erotic Latin poetry but more recently has devoted his time to bringing to light the more bizarre aspects of ancient life. Two books on this topic have already been published by Oxford University Press: A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the World’s Greatest Empire and A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the Cradle of Western Civilization. More of these works are in progress, including one on ancient medicine.
7/30: Cancer Stem Cells as a Model to Develop Novel Brain Tumor Treatments
Contrary to traditional dogma, every cancer cell may not be created equal. A subset of cancer cells with enhanced tumorigenic potential and resistance to common radiation and chemotherapies has now been identified in many blood-borne and solid cancers. These cancer stem cells (CSCs) are hypothesized to “seed” the tumor to drive initial tumor formation as well as re-growth after treatment, suggesting that their extermination is critical for therapeutic success. These CSCs share many properties with their normal stem cell counterparts, such as extended growth potential and differentiation to mature cell types.
This presentation will discuss how the cancer stem model can be applied to develop novel therapies, such as CSC-specific targeting and “differentiation therapy.” Malignant brain tumors — in particular, the aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) — are lethal cancers with median survival of only 12 to 14 months, despite maximal surgical resection, radiation treatment and chemotherapy with the alkylating agent temozolomide. Our laboratory has isolated CSCs from brain tumors that resemble normal neural stem cells, such as in their ability to differentiate to multiple cell lineages of the brain. We are developing CSC-targeting agents inspired by the human immune system (i.e., antibodies) and improved chemotherapies that attack the CSC sub-population, as well as the cancer as a whole.
Paul Clark received his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2001 and his PhD in bioengineering from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2006. Clark’s thesis research involved directing stem cells derived from the bone marrow to regrow bones and teeth. Since then, and with the help of a Stem Cell Training Postdoctoral Fellowship at UW-Madison, Clark has applied his knowledge of stem cells and development to brain cancer — in particular, the aggressive and deadly glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). As a postdoctoral researcher, he studied developmental protein signaling in GBM cancer stem cells compared to normal neural stem cells, uncovering novel ways in which cancer stem cells evade normal tissue differentiation and determining rational drug combinations that may overcome these GBM cancer stem cell resistances. As an assistant scientist in the Brain Tumor Research Laboratory of neurosurgeon John S. Kuo, Clark continues to study GBM cancer stem cells with the goal of developing new, efficacious therapies and translating them to improve the lives of patients afflicted with brain tumors.
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