Temple Times Online Edition
    OCTOBER 7, 2004
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Temple’s presence strong at conference on neurovirology

The sixth International Symposium on Neurovirology had a heavy Temple influence as a delegation of 23 administrators, faculty and students from the University traveled to Sardinia, Italy, on Sept. 10–14 to present research, chair sessions and be recognized for their work.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and the Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology (CNVCB) in the College of Science and Technology were co-sponsors of the symposium, which began with a two-day HIV Neuroprotection Workshop. More than 200 physicians, prominent neurologists, senior and junior faculty members, scientists, researchers and students attended the symposium and workshop.

Led by Provost Ira Schwartz and Vice President for Research Kenneth Soprano, the Temple delegation included School of Medicine Dean John Daly, College of Engineering Dean Keya Sadeghipour, CNVCB Director Kamel Khalili, Center for Biotechnology Co-director Antonio Giordano and 17 CNVCB faculty and students.

“Temple was very generous in supporting this symposium, and the University was heavily recognized for that support during the conference,” said Khalili, who organized the first neurovirology meeting in Philadelphia in 1997. “In fact, many participants at the symposium were commenting that Philadelphia is the mecca of neurovirology.”

Khalili, who is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurovirology, served as one of the conference’s co-chairmen and co-moderated a session on “Virus-host Interactions.” During the conference’s gala dinner, he was honored with the Journal of Neurovirology’s Outstanding Leadership Award in recognition of the journal’s 10th anniversary.

Daly, who served on the symposium’s international organizing committee, joined with Soprano to co-chair a session on “Virus association with CNS diseases: From cell proliferation to neurodegeneration.”

At that session, CNVCB associate professor Krzysztof Reiss gave an invited presentation: “The T-antigen from polyomavirus JC affects faithful DNA repair in cerebellar tumors of the childhood medulloblastomas.”

CNVCB professor Jay Rappaport co-chaired a session on “Virus-host Interactions,” at which CNVCB assistant professor Bassel Sawaya was invited to give a presentation: “Cdk9 phosphorylates p53 and promotes its degradation by ubiquitination.”

A session on “Investigators in Training” was co-chaired by CNVCB assistant professor Jennifer Gordon. The CNVCB’s Armine Darbinyan gave an invited presentation, “Regulation of DNA repair by Pur-alpha,” during that session.

Darbinyan was also honored with the Hillary Koprowski Lectureship Award at the gala dinner. Koprowski, who served as director of the Wistar Institute for nearly 30 years, was also recognized during the conference with the Pioneer in Neurovirology Award.

Giordano, director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine in the College of Science and Technology, co-chaired the symposium’s closing session on “State-of-the-art technologies applied to viral and cellular therapeutics.”

At the HIV Neuroprotection Workshop, a CNVCB faculty member and student gave presentations. Assistant professor Francesca Peruzzi gave an invited talk on “HIV-1 Tat-medicated inhibition of differentiation leads to neuronal cell death: Implication for members of the Id family,” while Tracy Fischer-Smith, a graduate student under Rappaport, presented “Altered monocyte/macrophage trafficking in CNS and visceral tissues in HIV encephalopathy.”

Virology pioneer and 1952 Temple alumnus Bernard Roizman, the Joseph Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Virology at the University of Chicago, also made a presentation at the symposium.

In addition, Temple faculty and students presented 32 of the approximately 220 posters that were displayed at the workshop and symposium.

Khalili also pointed out that the special session of the pre-conference workshop featured an important roundtable discussion on the international AIDS situation.

“The discussion was on the problem of AIDS in Third World countries,” Khalili said. “We had a very active session in which leading researchers were able to compare notes with each other and see how we can develop a more effective strategy for control of HIV-1 spread, and the treatment of AIDS treatment in places like Africa and India.”

According to Khalili, who proposed and helped create the International Symposium on Neurovirology in 1998, the seventh symposium will be held in Philadelphia next fall.

- By Preston M. Moretz