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Vol. LVIII, No. 21
October 20, 2006

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NCCAM Lecture on Natural Products, Oct. 25 in Masur Auditorium

  Dr. Ram Sasisekharan  
  Dr. Ram Sasisekharan  

Time and again, scientific research has found keys to the prevention or treatment of disease within the body itself. Breakthroughs occur with the development of tools that can speed the discovery process and the subsequent understanding of structure and function of human biology at the molecular level. Dr. Ram Sasisekharan, the fall speaker for the Distinguished Lectures in the Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, has developed such a tool for the study of glycans, the complex sugars or carbohydrates that surround all cells in the human body, opening up a field of research with vast implications for human health.

He will lecture on “Natural Products: Challenges and Opportunities,” on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. During his talk, sponsored by NCCAM, he will share the challenges he has faced in conducting this research, the results of his work and the potential he sees to improve human health outcomes.

Sasisekharan is professor of biological engineering and health sciences and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he and a multidisciplinary team developed a high-speed sequencing technique for glycans. With new insights into the structure of complex carbohydrates, scientists have learned that they play a critical role in the communications between cells that cause cells to divide, migrate or die. Sasisekharan and his team of researchers have identified sugar sequences that can promote and inhibit tumor growth, with potential implications for cancer treatment. They have analyzed heparin, a clinically important sugar, and identified the location of its anticoagulant properties, making it possible to achieve more consistency in the composition of heparin used for surgery.

In another study, Sasisekharan and his team determined that complex sugars are key to ginseng’s activity in the body. They were able to identify the different ingredients in ginseng that cause it to promote and to inhibit the formation of blood vessels, with implications for the healing of wounds and cancer control.

All are invited to attend the lecture. It will also be videocast on For reasonable accommodation, contact Karen Davison at (301) 348-1606, or the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339. For more information, visit NIH Record Icon

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