March 2017
Dear SBP Community,

In this issue we share news about our Rare Disease Day Symposium—a yearly event at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP). The event was the first ever scientific meeting focused on Alagille syndrome, a potentially fatal genetic disorder that affects one in 30,000 births.

We also bring you news of a discovery that could lead to new ways to boost our defenses against viruses, and research that could facilitate the development of anti-aging medicines.

On the people front, our students, postdocs and staff have been getting kids and other community members excited about biology and its potential to help society as part of the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering. 

Rare Disease Day Symposium on Alagille syndrome inspires hope for a cure

SBP's 8th Annual Rare Disease Day symposium, held on February 24th, focused on Alagille syndrome. Alagille causes jaundice, severe itching, slow growth and heart problems. The event brought patients, scientists and physicians together to spark connections, collaborations and hope for a cure.

Read more >> 


Research could lead to better vaccines and new antivirals

The lab of Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., has identified a new regulator of the innate immune response—the immediate, natural immune response to foreign invaders. The study, published in Nature Microbiology, suggests that therapeutics that modulate the regulator—an immune checkpoint—may represent the next generation of antiviral drugs, vaccine adjuvants, cancer immunotherapies and treatments for autoimmune disease.

Read more >> 

Your cells don't lie (about your age)

Developing drugs to fight aging could become easier thanks to the identification of a new marker of aged cells. Andrei Osterman, Ph.D., contributed to the research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Measuring heart toxicity of cancer drugs

Cancer drugs can be damaging to the heart, sometimes to the degree that they can’t be used in patients. Mark Mercola, Ph.D., helped develop a new in vitro test that could identify such drugs. The research is published in Science Translational Medicine.
Helping the brain de-toxify could slow Alzheimer's

Research with contributions from Huaxi Xu, Ph.D., could amp up the activity of the brain cells that clear out the toxic protein clumps that cause Alzheimer's. The findings are described in two studies published in the Journal of Neuroscience and the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Genomic study links over 100 genetic positions to metabolite levels

Tao Long, Ph.D., led the largest study yet to examine which genes influence the amount of hundreds of different metabolites—the byproducts of metabolism. The research, published in Nature Genetics, is a step toward using metabolite levels to diagnose diseases.
SBP supporter Gary K. Herberger has passed away
"With Gary's passing, the SBP community has lost a treasured friend, and biomedical research has lost a staunch advocate," said Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., president of SBP.                                                 
Welcome to our newest and recently renewed President's Circle Members!

• Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc.
• Barney & Barney LLC
• Ruth Claire Black
• Tracey and Gary Chessum
• Gigi and Edward* Cramer
• Reena and Samuel Horowitz
• Christine Infante
• Ashley and Ted Jacobs
• Pegasus Building Services Co., Inc.
• Stacey and Donald Rosenberg

SBP in the Community
Showing kids why mutants matter at the STEM Expo

Thousands of children and their parents had the opportunity to look at live mutant worms under a magnifying glass and see mutant proteins in 3D using virtual reality headsets. These fun activities were facilitated by SBP's enthusiastic volunteers sharing their love of science.
Think, Drink, Science!

Zebrafish, C. elegans, neurons and…tacos? The spotlight was on all these things at this 21+ event, which let attendees talk face-to-face with scientists in a relaxed environment. SBP's presentersmostly grad students and postdocs—presented their research and answered questions.
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