Bookmark and Share

This article is in the news archive.

2 day symposium - Astrocytes in Health and Neurodegenerative Disease - 28th-29th April 2014



Astrocytes in Health and Neurodegenerative Disease - 28th-29th April, 2014

The biochemical mechanisms underlying the development and progression of most neurodegenerative diseases remain unknown. It has become increasingly clear that neuronal death is not cell-autonomous, and that signalling between glia and neurons influences the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Research in this area has traditionally focused on microglia, considered to be the major immune cell in the brain. In the past few years, deficits in the function of the major support cells of the brain, astrocytes, are increasingly recognized to be associated with neuronal loss in motor neurone disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some rare lysosomal storage disorders.

In addition, substantial evidence shows that astrocytes regulate neuronal activity and connectivity, playing important roles in basal synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation. Major research efforts are ongoing to understand the signaling pathways by which astrocytes and neurons communicate, and the mechanisms by which astrocyte-neuron interactions are disrupted in neurodegenerative diseases. The purpose of this focused meeting is to bring together researchers that are at the cutting edge of investigations into the role of astrocytes in health and astrocyte dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to focusing on relatively well-studied neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and motor neurone disease, we will also provide a forum for researchers working on lysosomal storage disorders, including rare neurodegenerative diseases of childhood, such as neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses.

When: 28th-29th April 2014

Where: University College London, Institute of Child Health, UK 

Topics Include:

  • Astrocyte-neuron interactions.
  • Astrocytic signalling pathways.
  • Energy metabolism and astrocytes.
  • Neuroinflammatory responses of astrocytes.
  • Astrocyte dysregulation in brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, lysosomal storage disorders, and motor neuron disease.

Proceedings (invited speakers) will be published in Biochemical Society Transactions.

Abstract deadline: 24 February 2014.

Earlybird registration deadline:  31 March 2014.

Oral communication slots are available at this meeting.  All attendees, particularly researchers in the early stages of their career, are invited to submit a poster abstract for consideration as an oral communication.

Student Bursaries are available for this meeting.


Alexei Verkhratsky
Andrey Abramov
Dmitri Rusakov
Mark Sands
Michael Sofroniew
Milos Pekny
Nicola Allen
Pamela Shaw
Pierre Magistretti
Siddharthan Chandran
Vladimir Parpura
Yuriy Pankratov


Monday 28th April 2014

09.00 – 09.45    Registration with coffee   
09.45 – 09.55    Welcome and announcements   

Dr Wendy Noble/Professor Jon Cooper (King’s College London)
Astrocyte-neuron interactions   

Chair: Professor Siddharthan Chandran
09.55 – 10.35    TBC    Professor Dmitri Rusakov (University College London, UK)
10.35 – 11.15    TBC    Dr Nicola Allen (Salk Institute, USA)
11.15 – 12.45    Coffee/tea break   
Energy Metabolism and Astrocytes

Chair: Dr Nicola Allen
12.45 – 12.25    TBC    Professor Pierre Magistretti (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
12.25 – 12.40    Selected oral communication
12.40 – 12.55    Selected oral communication
12.55 – 14.00    Lunch and poster viewing   
The contribution of astrocytes to motor neurone disease   

Chair: Professor Dmitri Rusakov
14.00 – 14.40    TBC    Professor Siddharthan Chandran (University of Edinburgh, UK)
14.40 – 15.20    TBC    Professor Pamela Shaw (Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience, UK)
15.20 – 15.35    Selected oral communication

15.35 – 16.00    Coffee/tea break   
16.00 – 16.30    Discussion   

Chairs: Professor Pamela Shaw and Professor Dmitri Rusakov
16.30 – 17.30    Plenary Lecture

Chair: Professor Jon Cooper
Neuroinflammatory responses of astrocytes   

Professor Michael Sofroniew (University of California Los Angeles, USA)

17.30 – 17.35    Round-up and Announcements   

Dr Brenda Williams (King’s College London)
17.35 – 19.00    Poster viewing and drinks reception   
19.15    Conference dinner   

Tuesday 29th April 2014

09.00 – 09.05    Welcome and Announcements   

Dr Diane Hanger (King’s College London)

Astrocyte signaling pathways   

Chair: Professor Alex Verkhratsky
09.05 – 09.45    TBC    Professor Vladimir Parpura (University of Birmingham Alabama, USA)
09.45 – 10.25    TBC    Professor Milos Pekny (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
10-25 – 11.05    TBC    Dr Yuriy Pankratov (University of Warwick, UK)

11.05 – 11.35    Coffee/tea break   
Astrocyte dysregulation in lysosomal storage disorders   

Chair: Dr Andrey Abramov
11.35 – 12.15    TBC    Professor Mark Sands (University of Washington, USA)
12.15 – 12.55    TBC    Professor Jon Cooper (King’s College London, UK)
12.55 – 13.10    Selected oral communication
13.10 – 14.20    Lunch and poster viewing   
Altered astrocyte responses in Alzheimer’s disease   

Chair: Professor Milos Pekny
14.20 – 15.00    TBC    Dr Andrey Abramov (University College London)
15.00 – 15.15    Selected oral communication
15.15 – 15.30    Selected oral communication
15.30 – 15.55    Coffee/tea break   
15.55 – 16.55    Plenary lecture

Chair: Professor Vladimir Parpura

Astrocyte-neuron interactions in AD   

Professor Alex Verkhratsky (University of Manchester, UK)

16.55 – 17.25    Discussion and round up   

Chairs: Professor Alex Verkhratsky and Professor Michael Sofroniew
Oral presentation and poster prizes   
17.25    Meeting close    Professor Jon Cooper


  • Professor Michael Sofroniew (University of California Los Angeles, USA)
  • Professor Alex Verkhratsky (University of Manchester, UK)

Registration Information

Click here to register.



Sponsorship opportunities from just £250! Click here for more information.


Venue information
The focused meeting 'Astrocytes in Health and Neurodegenerative Disease' will take place at:
The UCL Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
The conference facilities at the Institute offer a prestigious state-of-the-art venue for large and small events ranging from international conferences and meetings, to product launches and exhibitions.

Travelling to the venue

By Air
The following airports are all accessible to London:

Heathrow Airport
Gatwick Airport
London Stansted

Transport links between London Stansted Airport and central London.
London City (linked to central London by the London Underground/tube network and taxi).
Transport links between London City Airport and central London.

London Luton Airport (linked to central London by the First Capital Connect trains, Airbus or taxi).
Transport links between London Luton Airport and central London.

By rail
The British Rail train network connects London to all the major cities and most towns within the UK (and some European destinations). It is advisable to reserve your seat where possible. In addition, Eurostar trains go directly from London to Paris and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel.

There are nine major British Rail train stations in London, each serving different parts of the UK. Therefore the station you travel from is determined by where you want to go. In order to make your journey more efficient, you need to know which station you leave from and how to get there.
London Transport have a 'Stationlink' bus service which runs between the major London British Rail stations; in addition all the stations are part of the Underground train network. It is reasonably easy to travel from one station to another.

On the trains, there are many levels of service, from Economy Class to First Class travel, restaurant facilities and Sleeper carriages (which allows you to have a bed to rest in during your journey). In addition you can get information by visiting in person one of London Transport Information Centres at:

Heathrow Airport, terminals 1-4
Victoria, train station
Euston Station, train station
King's Cross, train station
Liverpool Street, train station
Oxford Circus, Underground station
Piccadilly, Underground station
St. James's Park, Underground station

Visit the following websites for travel information and online booking:

National Rail
International phone: +44 (0)20 7278 5240
UK only phone: 08457 48 49 50

The Train Line
UK Railways
Virgin Trains

By coach
National Express operates coach services across the UK connecting London to major city destinations. For more information visit the National Express website.
Travelling to UCL Institute of Child Health
Visit the Transport for London website to get up to date information on trains, tubes and bus services as well as route planners and maps.

By underground

UCL Institute of Child Health is situated at a walking distance from the following underground stations:
Russell Square (Piccadilly line)
Holborn (Central and Piccadilly line)
Chancery Lane (Central line)
Farringdon (Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City line)
Euston (Northern and Victoria line)
Kings Cross (Nothern, Victoria, Piccadilly, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City line)

By rail
The following rail stations are located in the area of UCL Institute of Child Health:

Kings Cross (1.1 miles)
Euston (1.3 miles)
St Pancras International (1.1 miles)
Charing Cross (1.6 miles)
Blackfriars (1.4 miles)
Farringdon (0.8 miles)

For further travel information visit the Transport for London and National Rail website.
For maps of the local area visit the MultiMap website.

By car

We strongly advise delegates against driving into central London by car.

Parking is available at nearby NCP car parks, visit the NCP website for further details. (There are 3 NCP car parks in the area; Brunswick Square, Judd Street, and Southampton Row) Please note that parking costs are likely to be very high in the central London area.
For further directions and up to date travel information please refer to the AA or RACfor advice.
Please note that there is no parking available at UCL Institute of Child Health

London Congestion Charge Information
Transport for London will impose a charge of £8 per weekday on most vehicles being used in Central London. The charge is an area licence vehicles used in the central area zone must be registered. The payment is £8 per day and allows you to cross into and out of the zone unlimited amount of times on that specific day.
Zone operates: 07:00 to 18:00 weekdays
Pay by phone: 0845 900 1234 (UK only) or +44 20 7649 9122 (International)
Pay online:

Hackney Carriages / 'black cabs' (identified by the 'TAXI' sign on the roof) can be easily flagged down from the pavement.

Private Car Hire Services (including mini-cabs) can only be booked in advance by telephone. Both types display official licence plates on the outside of the vehicle and all legitimate drivers carry identification cards. It is advisable never to get into a private hire car/mini-cab you have not ordered.

Charges may be metered or pre-set, please check before travelling. Cab drivers expect to be tipped 10% of the total fare.

Posted on 08/10/2013

Further news

Go to the news index page.