Moving Targets Symposium Focuses on Disease-Driven Aging

The 15th annual student-organized Moving Targets symposium on Friday, Aug. 19 addressed how chronic diseases and associated therapies accelerate aging, and highlighted breakthroughs in targeting mechanisms of aging.

With the theme of Disease-Driven Aging, the 15th annual Moving Targets symposium on Friday, Aug. 19 addressed how chronic diseases and associated therapies accelerate aging, and highlighted breakthroughs in targeting mechanisms of aging.

The USC chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) presents this daylong research symposium each year, enabling students to engage with leading scientific experts in a collegial setting. The 2016 event attracted more than 200 participants including students, faculty members and scientists from industry and the academy. Topics included metabolic disorders and aging, aging with HIV, aging acceleration in cancer, and targeting signaling in aging.

Keynote speaker Felipe Sierra, Director of Aging Biology from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) said if the rate of aging can be controlled, the rate of all diseases can be controlled. “We’re not trying to become immortal, we’re just trying to postpone the realities of aging and driving disease.”

The AAPS-USC student organizing committee for this year’s symposium was led by Chair Ishan Patil with Vice Chair Samy Habib, Treasurer Pooja Vaikari, Secretary Benjamin Frey, Social Chair Xianhui Chen and Communications Chair Larry Rodriguez. Associate Professor J. Andrew MacKay, PhD, again served as faculty adviser.

Inspiring a new generation of scientists

“The event is called Moving Targets, because of the constantly shifting goals of biomedical research,” said Ishan Patil, chair and graduate student organizer for the event.  “We want to facilitate the exchange of new scientific knowledge, and we also want to inspire the new generation of scientists.”

Attendees included healthcare professionals, industry professionals, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and even a few high school students.

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The daylong research symposium enabled students to engage with leading scientific experts in a collegial setting. More than 200 participants attended including students, faculty members and scientists from industry and the academy.

Annie Wong-Beringer, Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs and Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs at the USC School of Pharmacy, said the graduate students who organized the event should be proud of their work.

“The scientific rigor is really exceptional–it’s an impressive lineup of renowned scientists,” she said. “This program is unique as it’s not only a symposium, it’s also a networking lunch for attendees to mingle and meet with our speakers, as well as a student poster competition.”

Student attendees could also participate in the Young Investigator Awards, a poster  competition that awarded cash prizes to top presenters.

Katherine Fang (CalTech), Rebecca Lim (USC), Weiwen Sun (USC), Yvette Wang (USC) and Yasaman Bahreni (USC) all received awards for their work.

Watch: Video from the symposium is available online.