Missouri Life Sciences Week brings scientists, leaders together

Activities throughout the week include forums, presentations and an awards presentation.

The 27th annual Missouri Life Sciences Week begins Tuesday, bringing together more than 1,000 academic researchers, business leaders, policy makers and students.

"There's a lot of research here that's going to make an impact on our world, everything from biomedicine to ecology to engineering," Life Science spokeswoman Ginny Booker said. "People here are excited to see science and to get to talk about science."

Activities for the week include a two-day forum showcasing student research projects, science career exploration opportunities, seminars by internationally acclaimed scientists and an awards presentation.

"Life Sciences Week is filled with energy, conversation, education and fun," Life Sciences Week chairman William Folk said in a news release. "It is the opportunity for those who love science to share their work, and to dream of what might lie over the horizon."

Organizers encourage all students to attend, regardless of major.

"Even if they aren't scientists, students can learn a lot about how large the scope is, how broad the variety is," Booker said. "People will be amazed and enjoy seeing the research, because it's very encouraging."

Among the scheduled events is a discussion on global HIV and AIDS.

"What I'd like to speak about is a brief summary of where we came from in terms of HIV therapies, what progress has been made and what are the challenges in the future," said Stefan Sarafianos, MU assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, who will be presenting Tuesday. "I will try to give the bird's eye view of the HIV and AIDS story and then try to narrow it down into specific challenges."

That seminar will bring professors from both UM-Kansas City and University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to present alongside Sarafianos.

"It is important, because in many ways, HIV is something that does affect college students' lives and has a potential to do so," Sarafianos said. "It is important for them to be aware of what therapies are out there."

Organizers are also highlighting a presentation Thursday regarding linkages among Midwest Watersheds and the Gulf of Mexico.

"It really has to do with how all kinds of storming, water runoff and farming practices in the Midwest impacts the Gulf of Mexico," Booker said. "That's going to be kind of an exciting meeting because it's going to bring together people who have interests in not only the economy but agriculture and ecology."

The week is funded through the Bond Life Sciences Center and by contributions from deans of many different MU schools, Booker said.

Sarafianos said he is looking forward to not only speaking, but being in attendance at the event.

"It's very exciting and very conducive towards learning," he said. "There are very impressive young scientists here who are eager to show off their beautiful work."

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