Neuro-Pathologist Portrayed in "Concussion" to Headline Westminster College’s 2016 Hancock Symposium

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The theme of the 2016 Hancock Symposium -- “Audacious Ingenuity: Pushing the Boundaries of Science”

Bennet Omalu, the renowned Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist, who first identified and then heightened awareness of a debilitating form of brain damage in many former National Football League players, will deliver the Green Foundation Lecture during the annual Hancock Symposium at Westminster College in September.

Omalu, who battled the NFL for more than a decade over his research findings on concussions suffered by athletes, will be a part of a galaxy of renowned scientists and research physicians taking part in the two-day symposium September 14-15. The symposium is free and open to the public.

Omalu named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as the form of brain damage caused by repeated impact. He took an interest in the subject following the 2002 death of Mike Webster, a former Pittsburgh Steeler standout. He suspected that Webster died from a form of dementia caused by repeated blows to the head.

His struggle to bring CTE into public view was documented in the book Concussion. That book was the basis of a highly acclaimed motion picture last year in which actor Will Smith portrayed Omalu. He was also featured in the PBS Frontline documentary “League of Denial.”

Omalu is the Chief Medical Examiner of San Joaquin County, CA, and President and Medical Director of Bennet Omalu Pathology. He also serves as an Associate Clinical Professor and Associate Physician Diplomate at the University of California, Davis Medical Center, Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

He also has testified twice before U.S. Congress, and has provided testimony as an expert witness in hundreds of federal and state courts across the country.

His lecture at Westminster College will conclude the 2016 Hancock Symposium, the theme of which will be “Audacious Ingenuity: Pushing the Boundaries of Science.”

“Dr. Omalu is a quintessential American success story,” said Benjamin Ola. Akande, president of Westminster College. “He rose from an early life as a refugee in his war torn homeland of Nigeria in the late 1960s and reached the highest level of his profession by dint of hard work and persistence with a critically important medical breakthrough that has revolutionized sports medicine and safety.”

Presented annually by the college’s Churchill Institute of Global Engagement, the Hancock Symposium is one of Westminster College’s signature academic experiences, bringing in national and international leaders and experts to educate, inspire and challenge students.

Other Symposium speakers include:
Dr. Francis Ali-Osman, D.Sc., co-director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, NC and professor of Neuro-Oncology Research. Ali-Osman is a member of Duke University Medical Center’s research team. A world leader in the field of experimental oncology, cancer therapeutics, pharmacology, and cancer-drug resistance, Ali-Osman’s research focuses on the development of highly targeted, “smart” anticancer drugs to battle tumors. He will deliver a Special Hancock Lecture on Neuroscience.

Dr. James Carrington, president of the Danforth Center in St. Louis. He is internationally recognized for his research on gene silencing, the functions of small RNA, and virus-host interactions. His work in the small RNA field has focused on mechanisms through which plants and other organisms use non-coding RNA to control growth and development and to defend against viruses.

Dr. Sharon Deem, a leader in conservation medicine, wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist at the Saint Louis Zoo. She also worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society and Smithsonian National Zoo, and lived and worked in the Galapagos for three years as the veterinary epidemiologist for the Saint Louis Zoo's WildCare Institute Center for Avian Health in the Galapagos.

Tyrone B. Hayes, a biologist and professor of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley, and an advocate for critical review and regulation of pesticides and other chemicals that may cause adverse health effects in humans and amphibians.

Dr. Norman G. Lederman, dstinguished Professor of Mathematics and Science Education at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is the editor of the recently published Handbook for Research on Science Education, has written 15 book chapters, and published more than 200 articles in professional refereed journals on science education.

Dr. Mario Livio is an internationally recognized astrophysicist, best-selling author, and a popular speaker, who has worked for 24 years with the Hubble Space Telescope. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has published more than 400 scientific articles, on topics ranging from cosmology, supernova explosions, and black holes, to extrasolar planets and the emergence of life in the universe.

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi currently leads a research group at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) that hacks stars to understand the fundamental interactions of plasmas and electromagnetic fields, developed new in-space propulsion technologies, and investigated Galactic structure and evolution. He also has begun working with the 100 Year Starship Project to help lay the groundwork for the first human mission to a nearby star system.

About Westminster College
Founded in 1851, Westminster College (Fulton, MO) is one of the top liberal arts colleges in America, according to all major educational ranking firms including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review and Washington Monthly. Westminster is a challenging academic environment where students are educated to lead and inspired to achieve. Ninety-six percent of Westminster graduates start their first job or enroll in graduate or professional schools within six months of graduation.

To learn more about Westminster College and the Symposium, go to http://www.westminster-mo.edu and http://Symposium.Westminster-MO.edu.

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