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NYAS China Conference reveals latest advances in biomedical sciences


Shanghai conference featured over 100 noted scientists from US, Europe and Asia

China has experienced tremendous growth within the past decade. Its economic boom and growing domestic market is now paralleled by its ascendancy in the life sciences, and the country’s scientists are rapidly rising to the cutting edge in areas such as neuroscience, chemical biology, and many other fields. Moreover, the global threat posed by infectious diseases such as the H5N1 bird flu virus, SARS and HIV-AIDS has spurred extensive research in China that promises to benefit science and medicine the world over.

To share the advances that Chinese scientists have made in the sciences and facilitate increased collaboration and partnership among scientists from the U.S., China, Europe, and other parts of Asia, the New York Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Shanghai Institutes of Biomedical Sciences recently hosted a groundbreaking conference. This unique meeting brought together more than 100 scientists from China, the U.S., Europe and other parts of Asia to discuss the most pressing issues at the cutting edge of biomedical science.

For a comprehensive online report revealing all the major information presented at this unprecedented conference, check out for the Frontiers in Biomedical Science eBriefing. The report includes an overview; bulleted highlights and summaries encapsulating every major presentation; chapterized, searchable audio presentations, synchronized with speakers’ slides; links to relevant web sites, books, journal articles; and cross-referenced articles from the Academy on related subjects.

Exciting New Research from East and West

Panel discussions, plenary lectures, and shorter technical talks by leading researchers from China, the United States, and Europe focused on four specific scientific areas: (1) chemical biology (2) infectious diseases (3) genomic medicine, and (4) neuroscience.

The eBriefing reveals the latest research on:

Chemical Biology:
Gregory Verdine, Harvard College professor of chemical biology, discussed emerging opportunities in chemical biology, and urged Chinese scientists to develop drugs from natural products for previously "undruggable" targets. He was joined by Virginia Cornish, Columbia University, who discussed research focused on developing ways of co-opting ribosomes to synthesize strings of nucleotides that do not occur in nature. Dawei Ma, Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and Hua-Liang Jiang, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, discussed how methods in chemical biology might be applied to targeting the SARS virus and other microbes.

Genomic Medicine (Leukemia):
Zhu Chen, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discussed the potential benefits of genomic medicine, esp. in relation to leukemia and revealed a new method of attacking this disease. Rather than attempting to kill the cells that constitute the disease, his work attempts to reveal the complex systems of regulatory genetics that cause it. He showed data suggesting that this systems-based method can improve outcomes. In addition, Jan Carlstedt-Duke, the Karolinkska Insitute, also described several efforts in Sweden to develop comprehensive, searchable, integrated databases of genetic information.

Infectious Diseases (SARS & Avian Flu):
David Perlin, president and scientific director of the Public Health Research Institute in Newark, New Jersey, discussed the challenges of controlling infectious diseases around the world and his work on the evolution of drug-resistant strains of infectious fungi. Marc Lipsitch, Harvard School of Public Health, examined why avian flu is more dangerous than SARS, and Bing Sun, SIBS Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology discussed a diagnostic test for SARS.

Cutting-Edge Studies of Molecular Sensory Systems
Xu Zhang, Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Neuroscience, discussed the molecular and cellular mechanisms of pain. Bruce Hahn, University of Chicago and Sun Yat-sen University, joined him in a discussion that wove together anthropology, genetics, and neurobiology.

Aging and Hormones
Étienne-Émile Baulieu, the past president of the French Academy of Sciences also known for his work on RU486 ("the morning-after pill") discussed how hormone therapy might be used to mitigate some diseases common to aging men and women.

Jennifer Tang | EurekAlert!
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