Life Lines

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Day 4 – Tuesday

Dr. August Krogh is considered to be the founder of comparative physiology. We talked about the August Krogh Principle in my first entry. This principle states that “”for many problems there is an animal on which it can be most conveniently studied.” Dr. Krogh recognized that many animals have unique natural adaptations that we can learn from, like the hibernating animals we talked about yesterday.

This morning I attended an excellent lecture given by this year’s August Krogh Distinguished lectureship awardee, Dr. Gerald L. Kooyman, Professor Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His talk was titled, “Life in the Wild: Applying the August Krogh Principle to Marine Birds and Mammals.” His research focused on marine vertebrates, the physiology of diving, and population trends of marine animals.

Dr. Kooyman’s talk was followed by an excellent special session on the “Grand Challenges in Organismal Biology” given by Dr. Hannah Carey, from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Carey specializes in the physiology of hibernation.

After waiting in a long line for coffee, yummm, I made it over to the featured topic session on the “Comparative Physiology of Brown Adipose Tissue.” This type of fat is different from white adipose tissue that adult humans have to provide insulation and stored energy reserves. Brown adipose tissue is used to produce heat in the body. Human babies actually have this kind of fat as do many animals. In adult humans, we shiver to produce heat. With adequate stores of brown adipose tissue heat is created through a process called non-shivering thermogenesis. Leading experts in this session were:
-Dr. Jan Nedergaard, Stockholm University, who spoke about “The Mammalian Prerogative: To Possess Brown Adipose Tissue to Fight Cold and Fatness.”
-Dr. Aaron M. Cypess, Joslin Diabetes Center, who spoke about “New Discoveries in Human Brown Adipose Tissue.” His research has actually shown that adult humans do have some brown adipose fat deposits which may play a role in metabolism and therefore may be important in protection against obesity and diabetes.

The last comparative physiology symposium that I attended was on “Cardiac pH regulation.” Leading experts in this symposium were:
-Dr. Richard Vaughan-Jones, Oxford University, “pH-Calcium cross talk in the heart: Control by mitochondria and Na/H exchange.”
-Dr. Alicia Mattiazi, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, “Mechanical recovery from acidosis: Different mechanisms for different species.”
-Dr. Ken Spitzer, University of Utah, “pH modulation of cardiac excitation-contraction coupling.”
-Dr. Daniel Warren, St. Louis University, “Cardiac pH regulation in reptiles.”
-Dr. Colin Brauner, University of British Columbia, “Preferential intracellular pH regulation in fish.”
Wow, what a comprehensive session! I learned all about the regulation of pH balance in so many species! A highly recommended session…hope you were able to attend it as well.

I am very sad that there is only one more day left of the meeting. I must go through my meeting program now to decide which sessions I will be attending tomorrow…