June 2011-- I hope everyone is planning a fantastic summer with friends and family. Every summer many of us take an IGM family vacation of sorts and head up to the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine to take part in the Annual Short Course on Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics. The “Short Course,” as it is known, offers attendees the latest in how we understand the relationship of heredity to disease in experimental animals and humans, and the molecular approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of inherited disorders. It’s a unique learning experience that relies on a lot of interaction between students and mentors, which is very important to us at the IGM. This year will be the 52nd annual Short Course and promises as its founder, Victor McKusick, would say to be the “best yet.”
Mentoring is important to learning and our graduate students take it very seriously. Some of them have reached out to the greater community to mentor Baltimore City high school students and through this, built the Incentive Mentoring Program, an amazingly successful program that helps students get through high school and into college. I am proud that our students not only do great research in the lab, but that they are giving back to the community.
Before signing off I would like to mention two recent milestones for the IGM; one bittersweet, the other great cause for celebration. First, we say goodbye to Josh Mendell as he leaves for a new position at University of Texas, Southwestern in Dallas. Josh, labeled as a “rising superstar” in a recent Science magazine editorial, spent the last 15 years at JHU, first as an M.D., Ph.D. trainee, and for the last 8 years, as an IGM faculty member. Josh and his wife, Kate O'Donnell, are both graduates of our Human Genetics graduate program, and while we hate for them to leave, we are tremendously proud of their accomplishments and excited for the opportunities their recruitment will make available to them. All of us wish Josh and Kate the best of luck!
Second, we are thrilled to report that long time IGM member, Hal Dietz, the Victor McKusick Professor of Medicine, was recently elected to the National Academy of Science, one of the highest honors awarded to American investigators. Hal’s work involves understanding the pathogenesis of the Marfan syndrome and related disorders and in developing remarkably effective therapies for these disorders. His amazing accomplishments provide perhaps the most outstanding example of the possibilities for treatment of genetic disorders once the molecular mechanisms of disease are exposed. Congratulations to Hal and his team of talented and dedicated investigators!
Read on. And as always, I welcome your feedback.
David Valle, M.D.
Henry J. Knott Professor and Director
McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine