Inspiring research through clinical Innovation, Discovery, Engineering, and Applied Science
A lecture series sponsored by IHSI

Health IDEAS - Inspiring Research Through Clinical Innovation, Discovery, Engineering, & Applied Science

Health IDEAS (clinical Innovation, Discovery, Engineering and Applied Science) will help ignite new interdisciplinary research ideas and collaborations. This lecture series will engage health sciences researchers, faculty, and students from various units as well as clinical partners with the ultimate goal of inspiring new innovations in health. 


IHSI Health IDEAS 2019 Lectures

"Fasting Mimicking Diets, Regeneration, and Age-related Diseases"
Valter Longo, PhD, University of Southern California
April 11, 2019 | 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. (reception to follow)
Beckman Institute Room 1025

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This event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested, but not required to attend.

This Willard J. and Priscilla F. Visek lecture is hosted in partnership with the University of Illinois College of Medicine, with additional sponsorship by the Division of Nutritional Sciences and Center on Health, Aging, and Disability.

Decades of genetic and nutrition studies by Dr. Longo's laboratory and others have resulted in the identification and understanding of strategies to activate high protection, repair and regeneration systems able to prevent but also treat diseases. We now know that certain genetic mutations are effective in greatly reducing cancer and diabetes rates in mice and humans. Chronic dietary restriction is also able to prevent major diseases in monkeys and has strong effects on disease risk factors in humans but it also has detrimental effects on lean body mass, and potentially on immunity and wound healing. In contrast, periodic Fasting Mimicking Diets (FMDs) given to human subjects up to once a month for 5 days are able to promote protection and potentially regeneration without severe side effects. In mice, FMDs cause regeneration in multiple systems leading to the amelioration or reversal of a number of pathologies. In humans, FMDs can reduce many disease risk factors, and reduce abdominal adiposity without causing significant losses of muscle mass. These results indicate that FMDs are safe and have high potential to improve health and prevent a variety of age-related diseases. A number of ongoing and future clinical trials will determine which diseases these FMDs are able to treat effectively in the presence or absence of standard of care drugs.

Valter Longo, PhD
Dr. Longo is the Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences, and Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California – Davis School of Gerontology, Los Angeles. He is also a Senior Group Leader at the International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) and holds four professorships across top EU academic centers.

Dr. Longo was named one of TIME’s 50 Most Influential People in Health Care for his research on fasting-mimicking diets as a way to improve health and prevent disease. He is author of the 2018 book, The Longevity Diet, which preaches a low-protein, plant-based eating style with regular periods of fasting. In 2016, he presented a TED Talk, "Fasting: Awakening the Rejuvenation from Within."

Dr. Longo’s studies focus on the fundamental mechanisms of aging in simple organisms, mice and humans. The Longo laboratory has identified several genetic pathways that regulate aging in simple organisms and reduce the incidence of multiple diseases in mice and humans. His laboratory also described both dietary and genetic interventions that could reverse the course of Diabetes and Alzheimer’s and protect cells and improve the treatment of cancer and other diseases in mammals. Dr. Longo’s most recent studies are on dietary interventions that can affect stem cell-based regeneration to promote longevity in mice and humans. The Longevity Institute in Los Angeles, directed by Dr. Longo, includes over 40 faculty members focused on topics ranging from regeneration to dietary interventions aimed at improving health and lifespan in the near future.

The Visek Legacy 
In May of 2007, and in honor of Dr. Visek's 70th birthday, donors established the Dr. Willard J. and Priscilla F. Visek Lecture Fund to perpetuate the study of the science of nutrition at the University of Illinois. Since the fund's inception, the Urbana Regional College of Medicine has been entrusted with stewarding this gift and coordinating collaborative scholarly activities promoting scientific nutritional research. 

Dr. Willard J. Visek joined the Urbana Regional College of Medicine in 1975 as a professor of internal medicine and helped establish a strong set of nutrition courses. One of the College's first MD/PhDs, he taught clinical nutrition to medical students and residents for over 30 years. Dr. Visek also held professorships in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Division of Nutritional Sciences.

Priscilla Flagg married Willard in 1949. She was Chief Therapeutic Dietitian at the University of Chicago hospitals. She also served as dietitian for community hospitals and nursing homes and organized training programs for technicians at three community colleges in Illinois. A creative educator, she completed her career as an educational specialist in the Division of Instructional Resources at the University of Illinois.


Past Lectures

The First 1,000 Days: The Foundation for Health and Brain Development
Rafael Perez-Escamilla, PhD, Yale University
September 4, 2018 | 4:00 - 5:15 p.m. (reception to follow)
I Hotel, Chancellor's Ballroom

This keynote lecture was held in partnership with The First 1,000 Days Symposium. The first 1000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and a child’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established. Environmental exposures, including nutrition, stress, and environmental toxins, can interact with the child’s genetics during the first 1000 days of a child’s life to have lifelong implications on their physical, mental and emotional health. Learn more about basic and applied transdisciplinary research being conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that is addressing this critical window of development using a cells-to-society framework.

Imaging Function and Connectivity in the Human Brain with High Magnetic Fields: Spanning Scales from Cortical Columns to Whole Brain 
Kamil Ugurbil, PhD, University of Minnesota
October 24, 2018 | 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. (reception to follow)
Beckman Institute Auditorium

This lecture was held in partnership with the Beckman InstituteCarle Illinois College of Medicine, Center for Brain Plasticity, and Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois, and with Carle Health System

Bridging and spanning the multiple scales of organization is an essential but daunting task necessary for understanding brain function and ultimately dysfunction. Our ability to map human brain function and connectivity is transforming with recent changes, including rapid developments in instrumentation for radio frequency (RF) transmission and signal detection, a push to achieve higher magnetic fields (currently at 10.5T for human imaging) despite challenges of imaging at the correspondingly high RF frequencies, and a plethora of novel imaging acquisition techniques that increase spatiotemporal sampling.

These developments, complemented by other non-MR imaging methods, hold promise that it will be feasible in the near future to integrate information from the single synapse level to whole brain networks that define behavior.