John W Severinghaus Lecture on Translational Science
Understanding What Happens to Memory During Anesthesia
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Todd C. Sacktor, M.D.
Todd C. Sacktor, M.D., distinguished professor of physiology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, worked for 20 years on the molecular mechanisms of long-term memory storage. He discovered an isoform of protein kinase C, called PKMzeta, which appears to have remarkable properties that allow it to store long-term memories. Inhibiting PKMzeta erases old memories, and increasing the kinase enhances them. Next door was the laboratory of Ira Kass, professor of anesthesiology and physiology and pharmacology, and Jim Cottrell, distinguished professor and chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology. While discussing science in the hallway, the three decided to look at the role of PKMzeta in anesthesia. Together, they found that PKMzeta plays a critical role in anesthesia-induced preconditioning. Further work on PKMzeta shows how it may maintain memories of pain. Ongoing studies of PKMzeta in transgenic animals reveal its crucial role in memory and suggest how anesthesia itself, through abnormal regulation of PKMzeta, may cause cognitive abnormalities.