This year, University of the Sciences will host the Mid-Atlantic Pharmacology Society’s (MAPS) 2013 Annual Meeting, an annual meeting of the minds between pharmacology academics, industry professionals, and students, on Oct. 7, 2013, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dr. Diane Morel, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology and assistant dean for curriculum for the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy as well as the current president of MAPS, discussed the upcoming meeting.
What is the Mid-Atlantic Pharmacology Society?
MAPS is a regional group under the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), the primary professional organization for pharmacologists. We are a regional group of scientists who come from backgrounds in academia, as well as the pharmaceutical industry. We bring scientists together to discuss their research and encourage students to pursue research and study in the discipline of pharmacology.
What is the MAPS Annual Meeting?
The MAPS Annual Meeting is a regional meeting through which we network with pharmacologists in the Mid-Atlantic region. We choose a theme and invite experts to present their research findings in that thematic area. Students from the region are also invited to the conference to hear from scientific experts and present their research via posters or oral presentations (by selection). The posters and presentations are then evaluated by scientists in academia and the industry and awards are presented. Undergraduates, graduates, or post-doctoral students are all invited to compete. The goal is to give students a chance to network with scientists and be inspired by each other to further their study in pharmacology.
How did USciences get the chance to host the MAPS Regional Meeting?
I began my two-year tenure as MAPS’ president this year, and what generally happens is the president tries to convince his or her university or place of business to host the regional meeting their first year in office. I have a board of counselors, which includes two additional members from USciences: Dr. Catherine Moore, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and Dr. Rodney Murray, executive director of academic technology and a trained pharmacologist. Together, we worked with administration and staff (College of Graduate Studies, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, USciences) to bring this year’s annual meeting to USciences.
What is the significance of the MAPS Regional Meeting being held at USciences?
Having the conference at USciences is significant because it is a good marketing opportunity for the University. The MAPS Meeting allows us to show attendees we are a school focused on the sciences, and we are engaged in research that delves into pharmacology, new drug development, and new therapies to treat diseases. It allows us to show outside scientists what our students and faculty are researching and their capabilities as scientists.
What are G protein-coupled receptors?
G protein-coupled receptors are proteins in the membranes of cells. GPCRs are called that because a sub-unit on the inside of the cell is linked to a particular cell called the g-protein. Depending on the specific g-protein, it can cause an increase in certain second messenger molecules which can increase or decrease the activity of various cellular processes. These signaling cascades are targets in the regulation and control of a wide range of diseases.
Who is speaking at this year’s meeting?
This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Lakshmi Devi, from Mt. Sinai Medical School in N.Y., who will present an overview and her research on a particular g protein-coupled receptor that may regulate obesity. Other invited speakers include Dr. Brass from University of Pennsylvania discussing research related GPCRs involved in clotting responses in heart attacks and strokes; Dr. Gutkind from the National Institute of Health describing GPCRs roles in cancer; Dr. Chintala from Merck discussing a GPCR-targeted novel drug for treatment of atherothrombosis; and Dr. Abood from Temple discussing cannabinoid receptors.
How were the speakers chosen?
Speakers were chosen for their expertise and to a certain extent, their location, as a measure to limit costs so we can minimize registration costs for attendees. Once we unanimously chose GPCR for the annual meeting’s theme, we came to quick consensus on regional experts. This wasn’t hard to do because of the Mid-Atlantic region’s strength in both academic and industry pharmacological research.
What do you hope people take away from this meeting?
I hope people will take away a better understanding of breaking research and current perspectives on the importance of GPCRs in a variety of disease processes and their potential as targets for innovative drug therapies. Moreover, I hope both principle investigators and student trainees will network across the boundaries of their own research areas and environment, and that trainees will gain feedback about their own research endeavors.
The submission deadline for poster abstracts is Sept. 20, 2013, and online registration closes on Sept. 21, 2013; on-site registration will be available at a slightly higher cost. Further information and registration is now open for the MAPS Annual Meeting