Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD-related disorders (ADRD) are quickly becoming a global burden. The number of diagnosed cases of neurodegenerative diseases is staggering and rising at an alarming rate as the population ages. While it is well-recognized that neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by aberrant protein misfolding and aggregate formation, the mechanisms that initiate or promote proteinopathy in disease-specific neural circuits remain poorly understood. Recent advances in human genetics and genome-wide association study (GWAS) have uncovered several genetic loci that are critical for the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, technological advances in transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics offer many critical new insights into the disease mechanism, as well as opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics that can reverse or mitigate neurodegeneration. Despite these exciting new developments, there are significant gaps in connecting genetic information with disease mechanism and in harnessing the critical role of glia-neuron interactions to develop therapeutic interventions.
This conference aims to provide an integrated discussion of the latest advances in research and therapeutic development for neurodegenerative diseases. This conference program will focus on the roles of genetic risk factors and their contributions to glial and neuronal health in the aging brain, the biophysical properties of protein misfolding and the propagation of disease-specific proteinopathy, the role of intracellular vesicular trafficking in disease pathogenesis, new insights into the diverse role of glia, innate immunity and microbiomes in neurodegeneration, and novel therapeutic approaches that specifically target each of the novel biological areas. It is anticipated that this conference will stimulate more discussions and promote new collaborations among scientists in the academia and industry that ultimately lead to new therapeutic targets to combat neurodegenerative diseases.