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Nobel Laureate Dr. Randy W. Schekman Took the Stage Again at GEC Global Top Scientists Forum to Explore Innovative Approaches to Parkinson's Disease

Jun 21, 2023

Develop. Grow. Succeed.

On June 21st, GEC Academy successfully hosted the Fifth Global Top Scientists Forum, featuring an online keynote lecture by Nobel Laureate Dr. Randy W. Schekman on the theme of Tackling Parkinson’s Disease with Basic Science. Students from diverse Chinese universities, studying medicine and biology, made up the majority of the audience for this online lecture and derived significant insights of Parkinson’s Disease from Dr. Schekman's expert perspectives in this domain.

Dr. Schekman is a Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1992 and in 2000 became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For his insights into the genetic mechanisms underlying vesicle transport, Dr. Schekman was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. This was the second time that Dr. Schekman had been invited to deliver a speech at our Global Top Scientists Forum. His initial speech, held in December 2022, was titled Secretory Pathway: How Cells Package and Traffic Proteins for Export.

The topic of the forum: Tackling Parkinson’s Disease with Basic Science

Mr. Sheng Yan, President of GEC Academy, hosted the meeting and graciously introduced the keynote speaker Dr. Randy W. Schekman to the audience. He also recalled their American exchange at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine during GEC Academy's one-month visiting tour to meet with some of collaborating faculty and friends the first time after the pandemic.

Dr. Randy W. Schekman (left) and Mr. Sheng Yan (right) at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in the United States

During the lecture, Dr. Schekman delved into the nature of Parkinson's disease, the increasing global incidence, and the complexities involved in its diagnosis and treatment. He emphasized the importance of recognizing Parkinson's as a spectrum disorder, highlighting its genetic intricacies and the need for multidimensional research methods. To facilitate precise treatment, Dr. Schekman also mentioned the common features of Parkinson's disease, making it essential to understand the variety of forms and a deeper comprehension of the disease.

Dr. Schekman introducing the common features and one of the major molecular features of Parkinson's disease

Dr. Schekman also shared his personal experience of his wife's battle against Parkinson's disease. Mrs. Schekman presented with early signs of movement disorder, including impaired sense of smell and other related manifestations, ultimately leading to a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Despite initial treatment with dopamine replacement therapy, her condition progressively declined. While Deep Brain Stimulation provided temporary respite, her subsequent diagnosis of dementia had a significant detrimental effect on her psychological health and worsened her condition.

Dr. Schekman sharing his personal experience of his wife's battle against Parkinson's disease

As Mrs. Schekman was in decline and after she died, Dr. Schekman received a research invitation from the Sergey Brin Family Foundation, with the hope that he could develop a program of basic science to gain a better understanding of Parkinson's disease at the molecular and cellular levels. Consequently, Dr. Schekman and his colleagues initiated an organization called "Aligning Science Across Parkinson's", with the aim to "build out a research roadmap which identifies large-scale, innovative solutions to address key knowledge gaps in our fundamental understanding of how Parkinson's disease develops and progresses." Dr. Schekman and his team were committed to searching for new therapeutic methods, forging collaborations with other scientists, research institutions, and medical scholars, and pooling their expertise and resources in pursuit of groundbreaking solutions to alleviating the burden that Parkinson's disease imposed on patients and their families.

Dr. Schekman expounding on the organization: Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s

The forum concluded with an insightful Q&A session where Dr. Schekman discussed the importance of exercise for people with Parkinson's disease. He also mentioned an ongoing study on the hormone Irisin, which demonstrated promising effects on the aggregated form of. ɑ-synuclein. While the relationship between Parkinson's disease and stress or depression remained unclear, depressive symptoms were frequently observed among individuals with Parkinson's disease. Dr. Schekman further highlighted the impact of physical damage and toxins on the development of Parkinson's disease, noting a higher incidence among people working in chemical factories and a negative correlation with smoking. The merits of music in the treatment of Parkinson's disease were also underscored for individuals who had lost their verbal communication ability.

Dr. Schekman answering participants’ questions during the Q&A session

This Global Top Scientists Forum hosted by GEC Academy, focused on the progress of Parkinson's research and treatment. As the keynote speaker, Dr. Randy W. Schekman brought thought-provoking perspectives and the latest research on Parkinson's disease to college students. Dr. Schekman hoped that this academic forum could deepen the understanding of university students on Parkinson's disease, and continue to explore its mechanism and treatment direction in the future academic field to make a profound contribution to the research and treatment of the disease.

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