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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 6, 2007

NIA Director To Address Symposium On Telomeres, Cancer And Aging

Richard Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will give the keynote address at an upcoming University of Iowa symposium on the role of telomeres in cancer and aging.

The University of Iowa Cancer and Aging Program (CAP) will host the one-day symposium, "The Role of Telomeres in Cancer and Aging," from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, in Room 2117 of the UI Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF). Following the symposium, Hodes will participate in a question-and-answer session on NIA research funding from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room 2117 MERF. This session is open to the public and does not require pre-registration.

Hodes' symposium address is titled, "Regulation of Mammalian Telomerase." Telomeres are long stretches of non-coding DNA at the ends of chromosomes that ensure the normal replication and stability of DNA. Telomeres gradually shorten as cells divide, and scientists believe this leads to unstable chromosomes and many of the problems associated with aging, including malignancy. Cancer is also associated with high levels of an enzyme called telomerase, which potentially makes cancer cells immortal and capable of dividing indefinitely.

As director of the NIA, Hodes oversees the principal federal funding agency for studies of the basic, clinical, epidemiological and social aspects of aging. Hodes has devoted his tenure to the development of a strong, diverse and balanced research program, focusing on the genetics and biology of aging; basic and clinical studies aimed at reducing disease and disability, including Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive change; and investigation of the behavioral and social aspects of aging.

Hodes' research laboratory in the National Cancer Institute focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the immune response, with major fields of current emphasis in the function of co-stimulation in T and B cell lineage development and function; and regulation of telomere length, and its functional consequences, in both human and mouse model systems.

Other scheduled speakers at the Sept. 17 symposium include Eric A. Hendrickson, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics at the University of Minnesota, who will present "The Impact of NHEJ Gene Mutations on Telomere Maintenance and Genomic Stability in Human Somatic Cells," and Monica Bessler, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine (hematology division) at Washington University in St. Louis, who will present "Telomeres, Telomerase and Bone Marrow Failure." Several UI faculty members also will give presentations on topics related to the roles of telomeres and telomerase in liver disease, osteoarthritis, chondrosarcoma, head and neck cancer, and bone marrow failure.

The symposium is open to researchers, clinicians, students and those who are interested in multidisciplinary approaches to cancer and aging research. The cost is $25, which includes materials, breakfast and lunch.

The deadline for symposium pre-registration is Aug. 31. Additional information including the agenda and registration forms are available to download from the CAP Web site at Registration also is available by phone at 319-335-8599.

Individuals with questions about the symposium or telomeres research may contact Aloysius Klingelhutz, Ph.D., at or Margaret Voelker, Ph.D., at For general information about the Sept. 17 event, contact Victoria L. Struzynski Olson at

The event is sponsored by the UI Cancer and Aging Program (CAP). Funded through the National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Aging, CAP is an initiative of the UI Center on Aging and the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI that fosters basic and clinical research and addresses issues associated with cancer and aging.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032,