Three Nobel Prize laureates address World Congress of Neurology in Kyoto

XXIII WCN 2017, Kyoto, Japan, 16-21 September 2017

Kyoto, September 2017 – As many as three Nobel Prize laureates will be addressing the XXIII World Congress of Neurology (WCN 2017) which takes places at the Kyoto International Conference Centre from 16 to 21 September 2017: Prof Edvard Moser from Norway, Prof Susumu Tonegawa (Japan/USA) and Prof Shinya Yamanaka from Japan. The WCN 2017 is organized by the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) and co-hosted by the Japanese Society of Neurology and Asian and Oceanian Association of Neurology.

The Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist Prof Edvard I. Moser shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his wife Prof May-Britt Moser and Prof John O’Keefe for their discoveries of cells that constitute the brain’s positioning system. In his WCN 2017 lecture “Grid cells and the medial-entorhinal space network” Prof Moser will share insights into the complex neural network of specialised cells that work together to generate the dynamic function of navigation. The medial entorhinal cortex is part of this neural system for mapping of self-location. Among the first components detected in this circuit was the grid cell. Grid cells provide the brain with its own coordinate system. The grid also underpins the structuring of episodic memory. Prof Moser will discuss, among other topics, how the entorhinal-hippocampal navigational circuit evolves during the formation of the nervous system in the first weeks and months of life and how immaturity of the circuit at early developmental stages may influence properties of medial entorhinal cell types.

Prof Susumu Tonegawa who is working at the MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in Cambridge, USA, was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1987 for his discovery of the genetic principle for generation of antibody diversity. He now conducts research in neuroscience, examining the molecular, cellular and neuronal basis of memory formation and retrieval. At the WCN 2017, he will hold the Fulton Award Lecture entitled “Monitoring and engineering memory engram cells and their circuits.” The identification of engram cells and their circuit for a specific memory has led to new insights into the cellular and neural circuit mechanisms for memory encoding, retention and retrieval, according to Prof Tonegawa. The expert will present results of investigations into the systems consolidation of episodic memory by applying engram and optogenetic technologies. 

Prof Shinya Yamanaka from the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Sir John B. Gurdon for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent. In his WCN 2017 lecture, he will discuss recent progress in research and application in the field of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In 2014, the world’s first clinical study using iPSCs began for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, Prof Yamanaka reports: “iPSC studies have also made major progress for other disorders, giving expectation that iPSC-based regenerative medicine will be widely used in the near future. To push these efforts, we are proceeding with an iPSC stock project in which clinical-grade iPSC clones are being established from donors with a homologous HLA haplotype, which is associated with decreased immune response and less risk of transplant rejection.”

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