Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

Nov. 14, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Some of the country’s leading researchers on aging will gather at Southern Methodist University on Friday, Dec. 7 to participate in a symposium on the molecular mechanisms of aging.

The symposium is part of the opening events for SMU’s new Dedman Life Sciences Building, which will be dedicated Dec. 6. The symposium will be held on the first floor of the new building, which is located on 6501 Airline Road on the SMU campus.

The symposium is being organized by SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences. It is sponsored by the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation Inc. of Tulsa, which also provided a $1 million challenge grant for construction of the $18 million Dedman Life Sciences Building.

Speakers for the symposium include researchers whose work includes a search for gene(s) associated with longevity, an effort strongly supported by the National Institute of Aging. The speakers will describe the different model systems that people use in aging research and try to relate these systems to aging in humans.

“This conference should encapsulate where the field of aging research has been going the past five to 10 years and where it is going in the future,” said William Orr, professor of biological sciences at SMU and organizer of the conference.

Orr said that today, researchers are getting beyond simply “a set of guesses” as to why people age and are actually beginning to identify specific gene products and networks that contribute to the aging process.

Orr said that aging was selected as the topic for the conference because several SMU biology researchers have made major contributions to the field of aging research during the past 25 years. Orr himself uses fruit flies to study the relationship between antioxidants and the aging process.

Lectures scheduled for the symposium include the following:

10 a.m. -- Opening Remarks
William Orr, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Sciences, Southern Methodist University

10:20 a.m. -- Telomere Biology in Aging and Cancer
Woodring Wright, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Cell Biology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

11:05 a.m. -- I’m Not Dead Yet
Steve Helfand, M.D.
Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center

11:45 a.m. -- Genetics and Demography of Aging in Drosophila
James W. Curtsinger, Ph.D.
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota

1:30 p.m. -- Using Transgenic and Knockout Mice to Study the Oxidative Stress Theory of Aging
Arlan Richardson, Ph.D.
Director, Aging Research and Education Center and Senior Research Career Scientist, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

2:15 p.m. -- Cellular and Molecular Genetics of Aging in C. elegans: Lessons and Themes from Simple Old Animals
Monica Driscoll, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular Biology/Biochemistry, Rutgers University

3:20 p.m. -- Molecular Genetics of Aging and Longevity
John Papaconstantinou, Ph.D.
Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

The symposium is open to the public. Registration begins at 9 a.m. A $10 registration fee includes lunch. Parking is available in the garage at the intersection of Airline Road and Daniel Avenue directly across from the new Dedman Life Sciences Building. For more information, call Lenda Callaway at 214-768-3212.