By: Alexander Michels, Ph.D., Oregon State University
The 2019 Linus Pauling Institute 10th International Conference and SfRBM Regional Symposium will be a special event. For the first time, this year’s conference will be undertaken in conjunction with SfRBM.
Given the strong ties between the SfRBM and the Linus Pauling Institute for the last few decades, it is a fitting relationship between our two organizations. The Conference will be held August 14-16, 2019 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.
The scientific sessions of the conference – Bioactives, Botanicals, and Redox Mechanisms - will encompass new approaches and therapies in neurodegenerative conditions, the role of redox biology in neurobiology and cancer, and the role that dietary supplements can play in health.
Every session in the conference touches one or more of these areas, and many speakers bridge divides between these fields. The hope of this event is to bring scientists and clinicians of diverse backgrounds and interests together; to find ways we can work together and break new ground in scientific discovery.
While the Linus Pauling Institute’s mission is research-based, it also includes a commitment to scientific outreach. Therefore, every conference we create has a session dedicated to the dissemination of scientific concepts and practical information gleaned from scientific studies to the public.
This year, our conference will close with a keynote address from Dr. Louis J. Ignarro. Dr. Ignarro, along with Ferid Murad and Robert Furchgott, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for elucidating the biological roles of nitric oxide.
In the modern era of redox biology, it is difficult to think of a time where the properties of a ubiquitous free radical such as nitric oxide were unknown. When Dr. Ignarro started to work on the effects of nitric oxide in the body, it was certainly not a new topic - Alfred Nobel himself worked with nitroglycerin (although more on its explosive properties). In Nobel’s day, nitroglycerin was already being used for the relief of angina symptoms by promoting blood vessel relaxation – even though nobody knew how it worked.
In the late seventies, Ferid Murad showed how nitroglycerin activated enzymes that caused blood vessels to expand, and it has this effect through the production of nitric oxide. Louis Ignarro expanded on this work and began a search for a substance produced in the innermost layer of blood vessels that produced a similar effect. Ignarro and Furchgott, independently – yet simultaneously – revealed that the body did indeed produce its own nitric oxide.
The discovery has made possible many new medications, such as those used to treat heart and cardiovascular diseases. It was also the groundbreaking discovery that led to an all-too-well-known blue pill for the treatment of impotence.
Dr. Ignarro’s keynote lecture, The Road to Stockholm – A Nobel Mission will explore his journey to the Novel prize, but it will also focus on his humble beginnings. The Brooklyn-born son of Italian immigrants, Ignarro attributes his early life with much of his later success, including a chance encounter with Dr. Linus Pauling. In his own words:
“I first met Linus Pauling in 1956, two years after [he received] his Nobel Prize in Chemistry. My high school chemistry teacher invited him to Long Beach High to assist in setting up a chemistry lab to complement the course lectures, and also to give a general experimental demonstration to the high school in the auditorium.
Since my teacher knew of my passion for chemistry, I had the opportunity to work with Professor Pauling for many hours. There has never been any doubt in my mind that Linus Pauling was the most important motivating factor accounting for my success as a chemical pharmacologist.”
Among his many scientific awards, Dr. Ignarro was elected to the National Academic of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Ignarro is currently Professor Emeritus, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA.
The Linus Pauling Institute International Conference, SfRBM regional symposia, and International Society of Neurochemistry symposia, will be held August 14-16, 2019, in Corvallis, Oregon. Discounted registration is available for all SfRBM members.