Johns Hopkins Researcher Andrew Feinberg Awarded the 2013 Spinoza Chair
The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Amsterdam, with the Spinoza Foundation Amsterdam, has awarded the 2013 Spinoza Chair in medicine to Andrew Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., Gilman Scholar and director of the Center for Epigenetics in the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The chair is named for Baruch Spinoza, the 17th-century Dutch enlightenment philosopher. It was established in 1995 by the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam. The prestigious visiting professorship is awarded to two prominent thinkers each year, one in medicine and the other in philosophy. As the latest laureate, Feinberg will be in residence at the university for a week during the month of May, giving “master classes” on both genetics and philosophy. He will also deliver the Spinoza Lecture on May 16, discussing the epigenetic basis of common human disease.
Feinberg is an authority on epigenetics, the study of heritable “tags” on DNA that alter the way genes function without changing the underlying DNA sequence. Many genes that are important in development, health and disease, especially cancer, are controlled by these epigenetic marks passed down from cell to cell. His studies have shown that problems with these marks may play key roles in the development and progression of cancer.
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Q&A with Feinberg
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