|The sixth annual UT Metroplex Day was bigger and better than ever before, with a record number of attendees and research posters entered in the daylong event.
This year's Metroplex Day, held February 4 at UT Arlington's E.H. Hereford University Center, brought together students and faculty from UT Arlington, UT Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas for a day of lectures and camaraderie, and gave students a chance to show off their research and explore opportunities for collaboration with those from the other institutions.
"Relative to the previous Metroplex Days, we had a record number of registrants, with 335, and poster submissions, with 135, for this one," said Robert Gatchel, UT Arlington distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Psychology. "This event was another testimony to the increase in the cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and collaboration among the three major UT universities in North Texas."
The day's keynote speaker, Sean Mackey of Stanford University, an expert in pain management, spoke about "Neuroimaging of Pain: The Strain in Pain Lies Mainly in the Brain." Mackey, a doctor and director of the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab as well as chief of the university's pain management division, said that pain affects 116 million Americans a year, with direct and indirect medical expenses of $560-630 billion a year.
"Pain can become a disease in its own right," Mackey said. "Neuroimaging of the brain is now advancing our understanding of the mechanisms of pain."
Only recently have researchers found that the central nervous system plays a pivotal role in the generation and maintenance of chronic pain, Mackey said. Through use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), it has been found that there are brain regions involved with pain.
The event started with a welcome and remarks from UT Arlington Provost Ronald Elsenbaumer and UT Southwestern Vice Provost David Russell. Jeffrey Demuth, UT Arlington biology assistant professor, then presented a talk on "Sex Chromosomes and Dosage Compensation: What We Thought We Knew, Just Isn't True." He was followed by Luke Rice, assistant professor of biochemistry at UT Southwestern, who talked on "Catch and Release: Conformation-Based Mechanisms in a Microtubule Polymerase," and then by Robert Renmaker, associate professor of behavioral and pain science at UT Dallas, who spoke about "Engineering and Medicine: Interfacing with the Nervous System."
After the trio of morning speakers, a catered lunch was served in the Bluebonnet Ballroom, where the posters were on display and where the poster judging took place. Mackey then made his keynote address.
The top three posters were then honored, one from each institution. Each winner made a presentation to the audience in addition to receiving a $250 award. Samara Morris Bobzean, a graduate research assistant from UT Arlington, spoke about "Influence of Estrogen on Morphine Reward," which she co-authored with Christian Chance, Torry Dennis and assistant psychology professor Linda Perrotti. Zhiguo Chen, a postdoctoral student from UT Southwestern, spoke about "Skin-Derived Precursors as a Source of Progenitors for Cutaneous Nerve Regeneration," which he co-authored with Sanjay Pradhan, Chiachi Liu and assistant professor Lu Le. Chen Zhou, a doctoral student from UT Dallas, spoke about "Luminescent Plasmonic Gold