Friday, June 7, 2019

Recap of the second day of the AANP meeting

The second day of the American Association of Neuropathologists annual meeting started with, of course, coffee. Our caffeinated brains were then further stimulated by the morning platform sessions (non-Alzheimer neurodegenerative and muscle/nerve running concurrently). Among the many excellent platform presentations was Lindsey Lowder's "Dementia in ALS: the role of the cerebellum". Dr. Lowder's work sheds light on the role of the cerebellum, an under-appreciated organ, in connecting ALS and cognitive dysfunction.

After the platform presentations, a second caffeine load was appreciated during the refreshment break. Then attendees convened to hear Beth Stevens, PhD of Boston Children's Hospital deliver the Parisi Lecture. Dr. Stevens presentation, entitled Microglia Function and Dysfunction in Neurologic Disease, described the role of microglia in synapse pruning. Although a normal part of neurologic development, there is evidence that it can be aberrantly reactivated in Alzheimer's disease. Further understanding of this microglial function in normal aging and in disease may lead, according to Dr. Stevens, to the identification of new biomarkers and therapeutic targets.
Eileen H. Bigio, MD
Eileen Bigio, MD

Morning activities came to a close with the Award for Meritorious Contributions to Neuropathology bestowed upon the illustrious Eileen Bigio, MD. In addition to her pioneering work in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Dr. Bigio was recognized for her teaching talent and for her service to the profession. As Dr. Qinwen Mao said, Dr. Bigio "has the mysterious ability to present complicated concepts in a simple, clear, and humorous way." Her contribution to the AANP has included service on the Program Committee, the Awards Committee, and the Executive Committee. In 2020, she will become Vice President of the AANP.

After the organizational business meeting, the lunch break allowed time for those who wanted to preview slides for tomorrow's diagnostic slide session to retire to the microscopic viewing room to go over glass slides. A triple-headed microscope allowed for lively discussions of challenging cases among colleagues. The afternoon break was also time for the trainee luncheon, a meeting highlight for residents and fellows looking for advice on future employment in the field of neuropathology

The afternoon platform sessions then ensued (glial tumors concurrent with developmental/pediatric/infectious disease). Time for poster viewing over yet more coffee was then allowed. I counted 234 posters at this year's meeting. The day ended with the Dearmond Lecture, given by Dr. Alison Goate, entitled Rare and Common Genetic Variation Implicate Microglial Function in Alzheimer's Disease Risk.

Oblivious to the gray and rainy conditions outside in Atlanta, participants at Day #2 of the 95th annual meeting all seemed to have a wonderful time learning about hot-off-the-press discoveries in the field, making new connections with colleagues, and reaffirming lifelong associations with old friends.

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