Glen Prusky, Ph.D., of the Burke Medical Research Institute, is among the leading neuroscientists and clinicians from around the world invited to the Qatar Clinical Neuroscience Conference to be held March 15-17, 2014 in Doha, Qatar. The conference will highlight advances in the treatment of injuries and disorders of the brain, and is presented jointly by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, and the New York Academy of Sciences. Dr. Prusky directs the Center for Vision Restoration at BMRI and is a professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
His presentation on March 17, “Targeting Mitochondrial Bioenergetics to Treat Nervous System Dysfunction Early in the Course of Diabetes,” will address how diabetes affects the nervous system and potential modes of treatment. Metabolic disorders were long thought to be primarily vascular diseases, explains Dr. Prusky, but new research also shows significant effects on the nervous system. His lab at BMRI has been studying how these effects on the nervous system underlie vision problems often associated with metabolic disorders. “We’ve shown that in animal models of metabolic disease, we can detect visual dysfunction before typical disease symptoms, such as elevated blood glucose, become evident. And if we improve the function of mitochondria in the retina, we can reverse the visual decline, without reducing blood glucose,” he says. This suggests that some consequences of metabolic disorders may be independent of impaired glucose regulation, which points to a new strategy to treat diabetes.
The conference will feature two tracks, one focused on affective disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder and the other focused on stroke, traumatic brain injury, and degenerative diseases. “It is extremely important to bring together a group of brain experts from around the world to address these problems, and share our knowledge and best practices, so our colleagues in Qatar are able to bring the most advanced levels of care and treatment to patients who have these tragic injuries and illnesses,” said Matthew E. Fink, M.D., Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and a co-chair of the conference, in a news release. The Qatar campus was established in 2001, making Cornell the first American university to offer its M.D. degree overseas. “A major goal of this relationship is to foster collaborative research between the two Cornell campuses,” says Dr. Prusky, who is looking forward to meeting his colleagues in Qatar.