A biomedical scientist who develops new approaches to treat one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer is in Roanoke today as a guest lecturer at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.
Dr. Harald Sontheimer, from Univeristy of Alabama Birmingham, will give a public talk this evening at 5 p.m. There is a recepetion before, starting at 4:30.
Sontheimer is the second scientist to be invited to the institute as part of its new visiting distinguished scholars series.
“Dr. Sontheimer is not only an extraordinary scientist who studies the basic processes of how the tiniest and most abundant cells in the living brain work (glial cells) but he has also used this very basic cell biology knowledge to discover new ways to treat malignant gliomas (brain tumors) when these cells processes go awry,” the reserach institute’s director, Michael Friedlander, recently told me in an email.
“He has also discovered that the venom from the tail of the giant Israeli desert scorpion has a molecule that when mimicked appropriately can selectively attack brain cancers,” Friedlander said.
In its first year the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute has a mission to not only foster new biomedical discoveries, but to translate those findings into things that can be used to help patients and grow the Roanoke economy. One goal is to spin off businesses.
Friedlander said Sontheimer has taken his discoveries from the laboratory to the business world and founded the company Transmolecular Inc., which is working to bring a very promising series of synthetic molecules to human clinical trials for the treatment of brain tumors and other cancers.
Tonight’s lecture is inside the building shared by Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, at 2 Riverside Circle just off South Jefferson Street.