According to Thursday’s plenary speaker, in science there is no discontinuity between the ambulatory function of bone and the endocrine function of bone.
This year’s Frontiers in Science Award recipient Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD, will further elaborate on his ground-breaking research during the plenary lecture “But Why Bone?” at 8:30 am in Ballroom D.
“The title is a question that comes in every one of my talks, which is why would bone be an endocrine organ? There are two different ways for the skeleton to fulfill the same purpose, which is to make bone a tool for survival. This view of bone biology is grounded in evolution,” he said.
Dr. Karsenty is the Paul A Marks, MD Professor and Chairman of the Genetics and Development Department at Columbia University. His lab has focused on demonstrating that bone is an endocrine organ regulating insulin secretion, glucose homeostasis, testosterone production and male fertility.
“One of its aspects has been to show that bone secretes a hormone called osteocalcin that favors energy metabolism, and reproduction, but also has other functions that I will cover in my talk,” he said. His lab’s current research is now looking for a receptor for osteocalcin in the brain and to identify novel functions of osteocalcin.
“It’s part of novel endocrinology that is not the one I learned in medical school,” he said. “Osteocalcin is a positive regulator of glucose metabolism. At a time when there is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, this is quite important. It’s also important because besides glucose metabolism, osteocalcin regulates physiological processes that are very vulnerable to aging, like muscle function and memory. This suggests that in fact osteocalcin may be an anti-geronic hormone that may be used to treat some of the manifestations of aging.”