Davidson to discuss molecular medicine at Presidential Lecture Feb. 27

Beverly Davidson, a faculty member in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and an internationally recognized expert on inherited brain diseases and gene therapies, will deliver the 2011 University of Iowa Presidential Lecture at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, in the 4th Floor Assembly Halls at the Levitt Center for University Advancement. The event is free and open to the public.

UI President Sally Mason will introduce Davidson and the lecture will be followed by a reception in the Wyrick Rotunda of the Levitt Center. The program will include a musical prelude by the Maia Quartet performing Quartet Op. 20, No. 2, first movement (Allegro) by Joseph Haydn.

Davidson, a UI professor of internal medicine, neurology and molecular physiology and biophysics who also holds the Roy J. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in Internal Medicine, has pioneered the development of novel therapies for fatal, inherited brain diseases. Davidson, a faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience, will discuss the history, recent successes and future potential of gene-based therapies in her lecture, "Genes as Medicine: Molecular Therapy Comes of Age."

The event will be recorded for broadcast on UITV.

"This is a really exciting time for molecular medicine. We are finally starting to see clinical successes for this type of therapy and I think there will be more to come in the next five to ten years," Davidson said.

Some of those advances may come from Davidson's own research. She and her colleagues have developed gene-replacement and gene-silencing techniques to treat inherited brain disorders including fatal, childhood onset neurodegenerative diseases and brain destroying disorders like Huntington's Disease. Both approaches -- adding a gene, or silencing one -- have proven successful in mice models of these disorders. Davidson is now testing them in larger animal models and hopes to move her work to human clinical trials within five years.

Davidson earned a doctoral degree in biological chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1987 and joined the UI faculty in 1994. She is the vice chair for research in the UI Department of Internal Medicine, director of the UI Gene Transfer Vector Core and associate director of the Iowa Center for Gene Therapy. Davidson also is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and received a Regents Award for Faculty Excellence from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa in 2007. In 2009, she received the Mathilde Solowey Lecture Award in the Neurosciences for her research developing brain-targeted therapies for inherited neurological diseases.

The Presidential Lecture series provides an opportunity for distinguished faculty to present significant aspects of their work to members of the university community and to the general public. The university established this annual series to encourage intellectual communication among academic disciplines, and to provide a public forum for university scholarship, research, and creative achievement.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires reasonable accommodations in order to participate in this program, please contact the President's Office in advance at 319-335-0011. The lecture will be interpreted in American Sign Language.

For more information, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/president/lecture/index.html or call Tom Dean with the UI Office of the President at 319-335-1995. For more information on Davidson, visit http://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/labs/davidson/bio.htm.

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