Brain illness, comprising neurological disorders, mental illness and addiction, is considered the major health challenge in the 21st century with a socio-economic cost greater than cancer and cardiovascular disease combined. There are at least three unique challenges hampering brain disease management: relative inaccessibility, disease onset often preceding the onset of clinical symptoms by many years and overlap between clinical and pathological symptoms that makes accurate disease identification often difficult. This talk will give examples of how positron emission tomography (PET) imaging has contributed to better understanding of the brain function and disease with particular focus on Parkinson’s disease. Emphasis will be placed on the interplay between scientific discoveries and instrumentation and data analysis development as exemplified by the current understanding of the brain function as comprised by interactions between connectivity networks and neurochemistry and advancement in multi-modal imaging such as simultaneous PET and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Vesna Sossi is a Professor in the University of British Columbia (UBC) Physics and Astronomy Department and at the UBC Djavad Mowafaghian Center for Brain Health. She directs the UBC Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging centre, which is known for its use of imaging as applied to neurodegeneration with emphasis on Parkinson’s disease. Her main areas of interest comprise development of imaging methods to enhance the investigation of neurochemical mechanisms that lead to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and mechanisms that contribute to treatment-related complications. She uses PET imaging to explore how alterations of the different neurotransmitter systems contribute to different trajectories of disease progression. Her other areas of interest are PET image analysis, instrumentation and multi-modal, multi-parameter data analysis. She published more than 180 peer review papers, is funded by several granting agencies, including the Michael J Fox Foundation, and sits on several national and international review panels.
This event is organized in collaboration with the Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver to celebrate the newly instituted Italian Research in the World Day, as part of the Piano Straordinario "Vivere all'Italiana" - Giornata della ricerca Italiana nel mondo.
The establishment of an Italian Research Day in the World was announced by the Italian Minister of Education, University and Research, Valeria Fedeli, during a visit to the CERN Laboratories in Geneva. The celebration day was chosen by government decree to be every year on April 15 on the anniversary of the birth of Leonardo da Vinci.
The main objective of the Italian Research Day in the World is to value the quality and competencies of Italian researchers abroad, but also to promote concrete actions and investments to allow Italian researchers to continue pursuing their careers in their homeland. Italy wishes to enable Italian talents to return from abroad as well as to become an attractive environment for foreign researchers.
Please RSVP by end of day April 9th, 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org or preferably EventBrite.
April 11, 2018 at 7:00pm
Roundhouse Community Centre - Room B - (181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver, B.C.)
Doors open at 6:30pm
Torrential rain and heavy downtown traffic are not the two best ingredients for making a successful evening out of a lecture on a nuclear medicine topic. So, it was with even greater pleasure that ARPICO welcomed more than 50 people in room B of the Roundhouse Community Centre to listen to Professor Vesna Sossi from UBC's Department of Physics and Astronomy. She masterfully lead her lecture's attendees through the intricacies of using subatomic physics principles and particles as tools to image our brain and understand what's behind diseases like Parkinson's, personality traits, the placebo effect, to name a few of the topics her research is linked to. Also fascinating is learning how the positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging technique she employs is based on the physical properties of a subatomic particle, the positron (essentially an electron with positive charge), which in only about 50 years after its conceptualization and subsequent discovery, went from being an exotic newcomer to particle physics to a fundamental tool for brain imaging, disease diagnostics and, possibly, therapy. I'm sure that when confronted with the notion of anti-matter (the positron is the anti-matter counterpart to the electron) prior to this talk, most audience members' minds would have wandered each to their own sci-fi memory bank to imagine some otherworldly phenomenon. Yet, attendees of Professor Sossi's lecture took home the message that matter-antimatter encounters are not only very much "this-worldly", but are also at the heart of the PET imaging technique, which truly opens a novel window of knowledge into our brain physiology and pathology.
ARPICO was fortunate to receive partial sponsorship of the event by the Consulate General of Italy on the occasion of the first Italian Research in the World Day, which was instituted by the Italian government last year as a way to celebrate the work of Italian researchers abroad. I think all in the audience last Wednesday night would concur that Professor Sossi is a prime representative for the occasion and did great honour to this celebration.