14th Annual Mariann Blum
Memorial Lectureship in the Neurosciences
March 1st, 2017 - 12:00 Noon
Long Campus Medical Bldg - Room 444B
Dr. Mariann Blum (pictured right) was a native Houstonian and biochemist who focused on how neurons damaged by Parkinson's Disease can be stimulated to survive or regenerate. Her scientific work also changed the way neuroscientists think about the brain. Her careful analysis of the levels of the growth-factor genes throughout the development of the brain found that levels actually were highest in the adult animal. This led to the observation that growth factors continued to be very important in the brain, even after it was fully formed. Blum published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers and reviews in her too-short scientific career, supervised five doctoral candidates, and trained more than 12 post-doctoral fellows and visiting faculty members.
Known to most of her friends as "Poco," she received a BS in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977. In 1982, she earned a doctorate in biochemistry at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston. In the same year, she enrolled in the Rockefeller University in New York as a post-doctoral student of the renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Bruce McEwen. Appointed to the adjunct faculty at Rockefeller, she also trained in molecular neurobiology in the laboratory of Dr. James Roberts at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Blum joined the faculty of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York in 1986 as an assistant professor in the Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Research Center for Neurobiology. In 1993 she rose to the rank of associate professor with a secondary appointment in the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development. In 2002, she became Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio with an appointment in the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital. Throughout her career, her research was funded by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and the National Institute of Aging.
This year's guest speaker will be Lakshmi A. Devi, Ph.D., Professor of the Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Psychiatry and Neuroscience departments, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is the Dean for Academic Development and Enrichment as well as Director of the Interdisciplinary Training in Drug Abuse Research Program.
Throughout her career, she has been interested in several lines of research, including receptor dimerization, regulation of peptide biosynthesis and opiate addiction. Part of her research focus is to explore mechanisms underlying opiate and cannabinoid receptor activation using a combination of molecular biological, biochemical, cell biological, pharmacological and behavioral techniques. Some of the projects in her lab also use a combination of classic and modern techniques in molecular pharmacology to explore the novel pharmacology of receptor heterodimers, and/or cutting-edge neuroproteomic techniques to analyze morphine induced changes in the levels of synaptic proteins and neuropeptides.
She will be presenting her lecture titled: 'G protein-coupled dimers and orphans: Novel therapeutic target for the treatment of pain, addiction and obesity'.