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Simon Kaja

Simon Kaja

University of Missouri, USA

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Biography

rnDr. Kaja is an experienced neurobiologist with a long-standing research track record in academia and the biotech and rnpharmaceutical industry. Dr. Kaja currently serves as Associate Director of Preclinical Research at the Vision Research rnCenter at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, School of Medicine. He is the Director of Microscopy of the imaging core rnfacility at the Vision Research Center and also holds an appointment to Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology. The focus of rnhis research program centers around human neurological and neurodegenerative diseases and visual disorders. Dr. Kaja rnobtained his B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Durham University, UK and holds a Ph.D. rndegree in Medicine/Neuroscience from Leiden University, The Netherlands. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of rnMissouri - Kansas City, he has performed postdoctoral work at The University of British Columbia (Vancouver, B.C., rnCanada) and the University of North Texas Health Science Center (Fort Worth, TX). In addition to his academic work, Dr. rnKaja has worked and consulted for a number of pharmaceutical companies, incl. Novo Nordisk A/S, Bayer AG, Neuromed rnPharmaceuticals Inc., and NeuroSearch A/S. He is CEO and co-founder of K&P Scientific LLC, a scientific consulting rncompany headquartered in Kansas City, MO rn

Abstract

Cerebellar ataxia is a rare neurological disorder characterized by the inability to control voluntary movements, and can rnmanifest among other as gait ataxia, intention tremor or dysmetria. Genetically, cerebellar ataxias are a heterogeneous group rnof related disorders, with different modes of inheritance. Episodic Ataxias are caused by mutations in ion channels, most rnnotably KV1.1 and CaV2.1. However, to date there is no confirmed treatment for cerebellar ataxias, and response rates for rnexisting drugs are generally low. Recent advances utilizing novel transgenic model systems that closely resemble the human rncondition have brought about a paradigm change that requires us to revise our strategies for drug discovery and development rnfor cerebellar ataxias. In this talk, I will present the latest experimental findings in basic and translational research, discuss rnnew drug targets and outline novel strategies for drug discovery that focus on restoring synaptic transmission in the CNS. rn

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