Lecture workshop on Neurosciences: Biology to Disease Management

3rd and 4th August 2018,
Indian Women Scientists Association, Vashi, Navi Mumbai

IWSA is an NGO which was established in 1973. It has ten branches in the country. IWSA has the mandate to spread science among the masses and use science for societal benefit. IWSA conducts community and science based educational activities. The science education related activities, include popular science lectures in schools and colleges, conferences, workshops and refresher courses (www.iwsa.net).

IWSA proposed to conduct a Lecture Workshop on Neurosciences: Biology to Disease Management for the students from (Ist/2ndyear MSc, MBBS, TYBSc, 3rd year BTech, MTech, PhD, BSc and MSc Nursing) pursuing any program in biological sciences as the subject was part of the syllabus of some of the courses. Science Academies’ Joint Education Panel, approved our proposal and provided financial support for conducting the lecture workshop.

Common neurological disorders include, stroke, migraine, brain tumors, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis and those arising from infections and trauma of the CNS. Due to changes in life styles leading to stress and due to an increase in average life span, young and aged suffer from these disorders. There is need for increasing awareness of the biology of the disorders and measures for their treatment and rehabilitation through continuing education. This lecture workshop was planned to update the students in this area of science.

The course included lectures on selected topics in Neurosciences such as brain development, neurobiology of emotions, neural circuitry, cargo transport in neurons and protein misfolding in neurodegenerative diseases. The second part was clinical neurosciences which included information on a neurological condition and cancer of the brain. The lectures were on clinical aspects, molecular markers for disease management, regenerative neurobiology, brain imaging and rehabilitation. The list of lectures and the speakers is given in the Abstract book.

We contacted a large number of faculty from different colleges with the flier sent by email and WhatsApp. In response we received 284 registrations. Due to the overwhelming response we closed the registration after this number. We short listed 143 applicants from 18 different colleges for the lecture workshop.

DAY 1: Inaugural address and lectures on the Biology of the brain and its function.

Dr. Surekha Zingde, Course Coordinator and President, IWSA welcomed the participants, speakers and guests. She gave an overview about the activities of IWSA.

Dr. Vidita Vaidya, Course Convener, FINSA and Professor, TIFR, Mumbai, briefed the audience about the Course and its objectives.

Dr. Sunil Pandya, Senior Consultant & Neurosurgeon, delivered the Inaugural address with a presentation on “Women in Neurosciences”. He gave an overview of how both clinical and basic neuroscience was developed in this country. He further emphasized the role women played in this and the difficulties they faced. He urged the students in particular never to give up, but work hard and overcome all stumbling blocks. This lecture set the platform for the program to follow.

Dr. Shubha Tole, FINSA, FNAS, FIAS, Professor, TIFR, Mumbai, gave a presentation on “Outside in-how we perceive the world”. She spoke on how we perceive objects both with reference to sight and sound. She gave examples of seeing different colors for a flower depending on the light source. She explained how these events are investigated in the laboratory. The students appreciated her lucid presentation and there were several questions which followed.

Dr. Vidita Vaidya, then delivered her lecture on “Early life and programming to psychiatric vulnerability“. She explained the effect of early childhood nurturing which have affects later in life. She showed how one can study the effect of low and high mother care in rodents and the differences in the behavior of the pups in later life. These effects are due to epigenetic changes which reflect difference in the nurturing of the babies. The students were amazed that such natural acts of a mother could have immense effects on the behavior of the child as it grows.

Dr. Aurnab Ghosh, Associate Professor, IISER, Pune spoke on “Mechanics of wiring up the brain“. He described how information transfer from the receptors on the growth cone at the tip of the axon sense chemosensory cues in the environment of the growing embryo. The guidance cues bind their respective receptors which in turn modulate the cytoskeletal framework of the neural cell and direct the axons and dendrites to make the required connections. He thus showed how neural networks are made to provide the optimal circuitry for the proper functioning of a system.

Dr. Sandhya Koushika, Associate Professor, TIFR, Mumbai spoke on “Traffic jamsregulate cargo flow in healthy neurons“. She explained how the small molecules transfer information from the cell body of the neuron, down the axon to the synapse which are the connecting points between two neurons. She elaborated on the movement of the molecules, the factors that affect their mobility and how the molecules overcome the road blocks to reach the synapse. She showed the movement of the molecules in the C- elegans which provided a clear idea of the points described. Her presentation was graphic and clear. There was good discussion at the end of the lecture.

Dr. Samir Maji, Associate Professor, IITB, Mumbai, spoke on “Cytotoxic alpha synuclien: Potential linkage with Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis“. He described what are prions and how amyloid proteins are generated. He then explained the effect of amyloid protein formation and how they cause different neurological disorders. Further he described how mutational analysis of these proteins provides insight about the structure and function of these proteins and gives some avenues for overcoming the disease process.

DAY 2: Disease Management

Dr. Pawan Ojha, Head Neurology, Hiranandani Fortis Hospital, Vashi, Navi Mumbai, spoke on “Brain Stroke and its management: Recent developments”. Dr. Ojha first described the symptoms of Stroke which are important to watch out for so that early intervention can be given. He showed the importance of MRI in the evaluation of stroke and then enlarged on the assessment of the extent of arterial blockage and collateral circulation. He informed the audience about the latest image guided procedures to deliver tissue plasminogen activator to dissolve the clot formed in the brain. He explained how it is injected from the groin to the point of injury in the brain using the latest technologies which have been developed by engineers in coordination with neurologists. His lecture was much appreciated by the audience and there were many intelligent queries from the youngsters.

Dr. Bhaskar Saha, Assistant Professor, St Xaviers College, Mumbai gave a lecture on “Neural stem cell: Its role in regenerative neurobiology“. Dr. Saha informed that it was always believed that there is no neurogenesis in the adult brain. This is being questioned now. He explained that there is less neurogenesis in higher mammals. He informed the audience about various stem cells and how they are derived. He further showed some experimental data wherein stem cells are injected near the site of injury in the brain and how the cells grow towards the site which is destroyed to repopulate the area. Experiments showed that though neural cells are formed, they are not functional. Much more research is required before stem cells can be used for brain injuries. The students were intrigued by the research methodology used to follow neurogenesis in the brain.

Dr. Neelam Shirsat, Professor, ACTREC, Tata Memorial Centre, Navi Mumbai, spoke on “Genomics bringing a revolution in brain tumor diagnosis and treatment”. Dr. Shirsat described how the field of genomics has grown after the completion of the Human genome project. She explained the various technologies which have been developed for providing genomic information about tumors. She informed the students about cancer, the conventional modalities of staging and grading tumors and the need for molecular markers for finer subdivision to address the observations in the clinic. She explained how many types of brain tumors were now known and which of these needed molecular characterization to assist the clinician to decide on treatment modalities. The presentation provided a step by step insight about molecular markers and their utility for patient management. The students greatly appreciated the lecture as it provided a connect from basic research to the clinics.

Dr. Jayant S. Goda, Associate Professor and Clinician Scientist, Radiation Oncology, ACTREC, Tata Memorial Centre, Navi Mumbai. Dr. Goda spoke on “Imaging for brain tumors and implications for treatment planning”. Dr Goda’s presentation complemented that of Dr Shirsat’s. He explained the different types of brain cancers and how imaging is important in diagnosis. He described the different types of imaging techniques and the pros and cons of each. He explained the resolution and sensitivity of each and how these are used to distinguish between different brain tumor types. His presentation had a lot of images which helped the audience to understand the importance of the relative differences. There was interesting discussion after the lecture.

Dr. Anuradha Sovani, Professor, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai spoke on “Not like Us”-(Severe and chronic mental illness and the wonder of behavioral interventions). Dr. Sovani informed the audience about neurological disorders such as autism and schizophrenia which are very prevalent. She explained how important it was to understand the patient and provide behavioral interventions to improve the condition and give them the chance to be as normal as possible. She also informed about aging and dementia and the role of behavioral intervention. She spoke about the important role of the care giver and the challenges they face while dealing with patients with neurological disorders. The audience appreciated this new perspective in the management of the patient.

Career guidance. We had representatives from the Tata Consultancy Services who interacted with the students and informed them the job opportunities after obtaining a basic science degree.

All the students informed us that they got a totally new and wide perspective about the brain and its functioning and further how neurological disorders are managed.

Dr. Surekha Zingde
Course Coordinator