Café Scientifique 2015-2016


Café Scientifique is co-sponsored by Montana INBRE and Montana State University COBRE programs.


Monday, Sept. 21, 2015


"The Miracle of Breathing: The Science and Personal Story of Cystic Fibrosis and Lung Transplantation"




Isabel Stenzel Byrnes

Monday, Sept. 21, 2015
6:00 – 7:30pm
Mary Alice Fortin Conference Center,

Billings Clinic, 2800 10th Ave. N., Billings, MT


Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, MSW MPH, author, patient advocate and social worker, will provide an overview of the scientific advancements, in layman's terms, in cystic fibrosis(CF), the most common life-threatening genetic disorder in Caucasians as well as lung transplantation. This discussion will include the clinical aspects of the disease, including the genetics, pathophysiology, management of the disease, showing how medical advancements are increasing the life expectancy and quality of life for patients. In addition, the speaker will discuss the psychosocial aspects of living with CF, including coping with chronic illness, the impact of illness on relationships, the gift of a support network, and the wisdom learned from illness. Lastly, the speaker will address one of the most transformative modern medical miracles- lung transplantation for cystic fibrosis. Isabel will discuss her global advocacy work, together with her late twin sister Anabel, to increase awareness about cystic fibrosis and organ donation using both their published memoir and documentary film entitled, "The Power of Two."

About the Presenter:
Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, 43, is an author, patient advocate and social worker from Redwood City, California. She graduated from Stanford University and has a Masters degree in Social Welfare and Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. Isabel has worked with families affected by cystic fibrosis (CF) for 24 years. Isabel has served as a Board Member for Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc., and has chaired their educational conference for 10 years; she also is an ambassador for Donor Network West and served on several committees for the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). After a lifetime of challenges from cystic fibrosis, Isabel and her late twin Anabel received double lung transplants. Their memoir, "The Power Of Two: A Twin Triumph over Cystic Fibrosis" was published by the University of Missouri Press in 2007, with a subsequent Japanese edition released in Japan in 2009. The twins served as global advocates for cystic fibrosis awareness and organ donation. Their work inspired a documentary film also called "The Power Of Two," which examines the CF and transplant experience in the USA and in Japan. The film is currently available nationwide. In their free time, Isabel enjoys hiking, swimming, backpacking, traveling and spending time with her husband, family and friends.



Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015


"Peering down the Pit: Assessing Human Metal Accumulations near an Urban Superfund Site"



Dr. Katie Hailer

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015
6:00 – 7:30pm
Baxter Hotel Ballroom,

Downtown Bozeman, MT


Butte, Montana, is home to approximately 35,000 residents living adjacent to one of the largest concentrated areas of environmental contamination in the United States. While the decommissioned Berkeley Pit copper mine has garnered national attention as a Superfund site, fewer people are as aware that other open-pit mines continue to operate in close proximity to Butte’s urban population, according to Hailer. To date, most scientific research has focused on assessing water and soil contamination related to past decades of mining. Hailer’s talk will instead focus on current mining operations’ ongoing effects on air pollution and soil contamination and the potential health consequences for local residents.


Dr. Hailer’s presentation will cover her research methodology, which includes collecting blood and hair samples from Butte residents, using these samples to determine the overall concentration of metals in their bodies, and comparing these readings with samples taken from a control population in Bozeman. Dr. Hailer will also discuss her original findings, which included statistically higher levels of copper, manganese, and molybdenum in Butte residents compared to the control group in Bozeman. She will also discuss follow-up research conducted in 2014 and 2015, which revealed elevated levels of copper, manganese, lead, selenium and zinc in hair and blood samples coming from Butte residents.


Although preliminary, Hailer’s findings are significant because the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a component of the National Institutes of Health, lists metal exposure as an environmental risk factor linked to neurodegenerative disorders like dementia. The role of metals in neurodegeneration is a rapidly expanding field of scientific research involving contributions from molecular genetics, biochemistry, and biometal imaging. Hailer hopes to conduct further research into how chronic exposure to metal mixtures might play a role in activating dormant genetic medical conditions.


About the Presenter:

Dr. Hailer is an associate professor of biochemistry at Montana Tech of the University of Montana. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from West Virginia University and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Montana. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., before teaching at Winona State University from 2007-2009. Hailer joined Montana Tech’s chemistry department in 2010.



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