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Jessy J. Alexander, PhD

Jessy J. Alexander, PhD, organized a conference to focus on new developments in the field of complementology and promote collaborations between SUNY campuses.

Complementology Conference Explores New Findings in Field

Published October 19, 2017

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (JSMBS) hosted a conference to discuss recent progress and future trends in the rapidly evolving field of complementology.

“Identifying complement targets and optimizing their delivery to the different organs in different clinical settings have important clinical translational significance.”
Research professor of medicine

The complement system is an integral part of innate immunity and is a complex system of more than 30 proteins that act in concert to help eliminate infectious microorganisms.

The complement proteins are present on stationary and circulating cells and transduce signals between cells in circulation and endothelial cells that line capillaries.

Changing Landscape Shows Expanded Novel Functions

The complement landscape has changed due to a recent flurry of work from different laboratories that show a burgeoning list of novel functions, says Jessy J. Alexander, PhD, research professor of medicine, and one of the conference’s organizers.

“New research shows that complement proteins are involved in synaptic pruning during development, leading to synaptic remodeling and generation of precise synaptic circuits,” she says.

“In addition, efficient recognition and controlled elimination of apoptotic and necrotic cells by complement proteins has been shown to be necessary to prevent excessive inflammation and autoimmune responses.”

Therefore, it is not surprising that when the complement system goes awry, it contributes significantly to disease so much so that it forms a part of the clinical profile, Alexander notes.

Re-Energized Drive to Find New Therapeutic Targets

Complement activation is an important aspect of systemic and organ diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, sensorial hearing loss, glomerulonephritis and several autoimmune diseases.

“With a better understanding of the complement cascade and its functions, the race to discover targets and define therapeutics has been revitalized,” Alexander says.

The conference examined the novel and traditional functions of complement, their interactions and complement therapeutics.

“Identifying complement targets and optimizing their delivery to the different organs in different clinical settings have important clinical translational significance,” Alexander notes.

Conference Initiates and Strengthens Collaborations

The conference brought together interdisciplinary scholars from across SUNY institutions and other experts who provided highlights and updates in various areas of complement research.

Anne B. Curtis, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and chair of medicine, provided opening remarks.

The plenary lecture titled “Complement System: Its Intricacies, Complexities and Novelties,” was given by Andrea Tenner, PhD, University of California, Irvine, and past president of the International Complement Society.

Topics covered at the conference included:

  • complement proteins in health and disease
  • complement therapeutics

“The conference helped promote budding scientists, initiate collaborations and strengthen existing ones within and between the different SUNY campuses,” Alexander says. “It allowed for the exchange of new ideas and brainstorming novel solutions to existing challenges.”

Multidisciplinary JSMBS Faculty Involved

Other JSMBS faculty who participated in the conference were:

Event Funded Through SUNY Grant Program

The “Fueling Conversations in Complement” conference was conducted Aug. 25 at UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center.

Stefan Judex, PhD, of Stony Brook University was a co-organizer of the conference, which was funded by SUNY’s Conversations in the Disciplines grant program.

Additional presenters were from:

  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
  • Stony Brook School of Medicine
  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • SUNY Oswego
  • University at Albany
  • University of Toronto