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February 8, 2002
Harvard Scientist will Discuss Frontiers in Osteoporosis Research
at Next Falmouth Forum, March 1

Harvard cell biologist and bone disease expert Dr. Bjorn Olsen will present "Osteoporosis: Seeking a Cure at the Research Frontier" at the next Falmouth Forum on Friday, March 1 at 7:30 pm in the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) Lillie Auditorium, MBL Street, Woods Hole. This is the final lecture of the 2001-2002 Falmouth Forum series, which is sponsored by the MBL Associates.

Osteoporosis is a major (and costly) health problem. In the United States alone it is estimated that $10-15 billion are spent annually to treat fractures caused by osteoporosis. More importantly, it represents a major source of individual pain and suffering and risk of mortality as humans grow older. One in two women and one in eight men over age 50 will experience a fracture caused by osteoporosis during their lifetime, and almost 25% of those that suffer a hip fracture will die within a year of the event.

At around 30-35 years of age, internal bone mass reaches a peak value and then goes steadily downhill as bones break down faster than cells can form new bone tissue. As bone mass is reduced, the bones become more fragile and are more likely to break. Once bone mass goes below a certain level, a person is said to have osteoporosis.

The precise reasons for the decline of new bone tissue production after age 35 are not understood. Olsen's research on genes that regulate the formation and production of bone tissue shows that some of these genes appear to control accumulation of bone mass, the property that lies at the heart of understanding osteoporosis. Olsen will discuss how these new discoveries are uncovering the innermost mysteries of how our bones work and opening exciting possibilities for a cure for osteoporosis.

Olsen, a native of Skien, Norway, received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Oslo in 1967. He is currently the Hersey Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, and serves as both the Harvard-Forsyth Professor of Oral Biology and the Chairman of the Harvard-Forsyth Department of Oral Biology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

Admission to the Falmouth Forum lecture is free and open to the public. A buffet dinner is available before the lecture in the Swope Center located near the auditorium. Dinner tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance at either Eight Cousins Children&Mac226;s Books, Main Street, Falmouth, or at the MBL&Mac226;s Communications Office at the Candle House in Woods Hole. Dinner seats are limited and tickets are only available until they sell out or until 5 PM on Tuesday, February 26. All tickets are nonrefundable. For more information contact the MBL's Communications Office at 508-289-7423.

The MBL Associates was founded in 1944 to provide an opportunity for friends of the Laboratory, both scientists and non-scientists, to support the MBL. Over the years the MBL Associates has taken on a wide range of projects, including providing fellowships for young scientists, supporting the MBL/WHOI Library, renovating the Lillie Auditorium, and landscaping the Whitman-Loeb quadrangle on the Woods Hole campus. The Associates also help bring the work of the Laboratory to a broader public by staffing the MBL Tour Program, sponsoring the Falmouth Forum Series, and operating the MBL Gift Shop. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the Laboratory.

The Marine Biological Laboratory is an independent scientific institution, founded in 1888, that undertakes the highest level of creative research and education in biology, including the biomedical and environmental sciences.