2016 Faculty Retreat highlights research advances, awards and promotions

| Written by Susan Gammon
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The 2016 Faculty Retreat, held May 11-12, attracted more than 70 SBP scientists wanting to learn more about their colleagues’ latest discoveries, explore collaborations and socialize in beautiful Carlsbad, Calif.

The two-day event included seven sessions covering the scientific themes and disease areas on which much of the Institute’s research is focused:

Metabolism—Chair: Timothy Osborne Epigenetics—Chair: Robert Wechsler-Reya Proteostasis—Chair: Rolf Bodmer Cancer—Chair: Garth Powis Neurological Disorders—Chair: Barbara Ranscht Immunomodulation—Chair: Carl Ware Metabolic Disorders—Chair: Sheila Collins

Special kudos to Duc Dong, Ph.D., for receiving this year’s “WOW” award. Dong, an assistant professor in the Human Genetics Program, presented his novel approach to generating insulin-producing beta cells to treat diabetes. The talk, titled, “Replacement of beta cells by direct in vivo trans-differentiation,” explained his work using zebrafish as a disease model to uncover ways to reprogram non-pancreatic cells within a living vertebrate to become beta cells. “WOW” stands for Wonderful Original Work and is an SBP Faculty Retreat tradition awarded by vote.

Congratulations to Julio Ayala, Ph.D., who was officially promoted at the retreat to associate professor in the Integrative Metabolism Program. Read more about Ayala’s efforts to advance treatments for diabetes here.

The keynote presentation was given by David Brenner, M.D., vice chancellor of Health Sciences and dean of its School of Medicine at UC San Diego. Brenner’s presentation, “Fibrosis: The final common pathway in chronic injury,” gave SBP scientists a clinical perspective on cutting-edge research in prevention, causes and future treatments for fibrosis associated with liver disease.

The retreat was organized by Lazlo Nagy, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Genomic Control of Metabolism Program and Bas Baaten, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program.

And it couldn’t have happened without the superb support from Esther Minotti, research administrative specialist who coordinated the show.

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