Plenary Lecture 1 - ASRM President's Guest Lecture - Chromosome Ends: Why We Care About Them

Date:October 14, 2013

Time:9:00 am - 9:45 am

Location:Boston Convention and Exhibition Center


Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco


Endowed by a 1987 grant from Ortho Women’s Health

Needs Assessment and Description
Telomere maintenance is increasingly recognized as an underlying process whose systemic impairment can impact a wide variety of clinically important disease processes. Through extensive clinical studies, telomere shortening has been linked to several major, often co-morbid, diseases that increase with aging in human populations, and telomere attrition has a causal role in at least some of these diseases. In turn, more telomere shortening has been linked to, and can be caused by, chronic psychological stress. Telomere shortness has emerged as a potential marker for the biologic aging that limits “health span.” This live lecture for clinicians and basic scientists will assist participants in applying the growing knowledge of telomeres and telomerase to improving patient care.

Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to:

  1. Explain the basic molecular and cellular biologic principles underlying telomere structure and function. 
  2. Explain how telomerase acts to maintain telomeres.
  3. Describe the cellular consequences of failure to maintain telomeres in human cells.
  4. Describe recent clinical studies that relate telomere shortness in humans to risks of chronic diseases of aging, and describe influences on telomere shortening including psychological stress.

ACGME Competency
Medical Knowledge

A young woman patient presents with aplastic anemia. She has a family history of pulmonary fibrosis. Which one of the following is correct?

  1. The patient’s anemia could only have been caused by a dietary iron deficiency and cannot be explained any other way.
  2. A test for telomere length of the immune cells prepared from a blood draw specimen from the patient may be appropriate. 
  3. The pulmonary fibrosis condition cannot have any relevance to the aplastic anemia diagnosis.


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