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Archive - Feb 4, 2020


11th Annual Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC 2020) Opens with Awards Ceremony at Genentech Hall, UCSF Mission Bay; Awards Given to Three Major Contributors to Advance of Precision Medicine—Philip Greenberg, Laura van’t Veer, & Brook Byers

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC 2020) opened its eleventh annual meeting ("How Do We Accelerate Precision Medicine and Deliver on Its Promises?”) centered in Silicon Valley on Tuesday evening, January 21, with an awards ceremony at Genentech Hall at UCSF Mission Bay in South San Francisco. (Editor’s Note: Including smaller regional meetings, the PMWC has organized 17 precision medicine meetings in total, since its inaugural Silicon Valley conference in 2009). UCSF was one of three co-hosts of this conference. The other hosts were Stanford Health and the Institute for Precision Medicine, a partnership of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Awards ceremony honored three distinguished contributors to the advance of precision medicine. The MC of the PMWC Awards ceremony was Keith Yamamoto, PhD, Chancellor for Research, Executive Vice Dean of the School of Medicine, and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF. PMWC Luminary Awards were presented to Philip Greenberg (photo here, see additional event photos at end), MD, Head, Program in Immunology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Professor of Medicine and Immunology, University of Washington; and Member, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology; and to Laura J. van’t Veer, PhD., Inventor, MammaPrint; Professor of Laboratory Medicine, and Director, Applied Genomics, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. The PMWC Luminary Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to accelerate personalized medicine within the clinical setting. Dr. Greenberg received his Luminary Award for “discoveries that led to adoptive immunotherapy with genetically engineered T cells.” Dr.

Developing Brain Is Key Regulator of Innate Immunity in Embryo; Brain Somehow “Senses” Bacterial Pathogens and Sends Signals to Immune Cells Directing Them to Site of Infection

Researchers led by biologists at Tufts University in Boston have discovered that the brains of developing embryos provide signals to a nascent immune system that help it ward off infections and significantly improve the embryo's ability to survive a bacterial challenge. Using frog embryos, which continue to develop with their brains removed, the researchers found that embryos without a brain are not able to marshal the forces of immune cells to an injury or infection site, leading the embryo to succumb to an infection more quickly. By contrast, the presence of a brain crucially helps direct immune cells to the site of injury to overcome the bacterial threat. The study was published online on February 4, 2020 in NPJ Regenerative Medicine. The open-access article is titled “An In Vivo Brain-Bacteria Interface: The Developing Brain As a Key Regulator of Innate Immunity." In a developing embryo, both brain and immune system are not fully formed. The immune system, for its part, consists mostly of an "innate" system of cells that respond immediately to infection and do not require training or produce antibodies. Nevertheless, these cells require signals that prompt them to move toward an infection site and trigger a response. The research team found that the brain appears to contribute to the signals that guide the nascent immune system. When brainless frog embryos were infected with E. coli, only about 16% of embryos survived, while the presence of a brain protected more than 50% from the infection. By following markers of immune cells, researchers confirmed that the effect is not due to the missing brain somehow hampering immune system development because the composition of the immune cells remained the same with or without a brain.