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June 28, 2001
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Stephenson
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Hopkins’ McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine Holds Inaugural Annual Symposium on Human Genetics and Genomics

Many of the world’s leading geneticists will convene at Johns Hopkins at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine’s first Symposium on Human Genetics and Genomics June 29. Sessions will be held in the auditorium of the Wood Basic Science Building on the campus of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Among the speakers at the day-long inaugural symposium are Eric Lander, Ph.D., and Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, two individuals responsible for much of the Human Genome Project. Other speakers include Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, the researcher who made key discoveries of the cell cycle and its role in cancer; Susan Lindquist, Ph.D., professor of molecular genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago, an expert in using baker’s yeast to study how complex genetic traits can arise; Svante Paabo, Ph.D., a leading expert in ancient DNA and on the genetic relationships between humans and the great apes and how the similarities and differences are enlightening us about human disease mechanisms; Edward Rubin, M.D., Ph.D., head of the department of genomics at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, who established how genomics can identify regulatory regions of genomes and their roles in diseases; and two founding fathers of human clinical genetics and genetic medicine, Victor McKusick, M.D., University Professor of Genetics, and Barton Childs, M.D., professor emeritus of pediatrics.

Institute director Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., an international expert in computational biology and a geneticist renowned for his studies of predisposing genetic factors in such diseases as diabetes, heart disease and mental illness, and Edward D. Miller, M.D., CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of its medical faculty, will open the symposium.

"In the months since the publication of the human genome sequence, many new features of the genome are evident," said Chakravarti. "These renowned scientists will discuss the realities of this new ‘genomic age’ and how it is, and will continue to, affect our thinking."

Specific topics for each speaker at the symposium are listed in the attached program.

Victor McKusick, M.D., University Professor of Medical Genetics at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, and one of the two Hopkins pioneers in genetic research for whom the Institute is named, will close the symposium with his perspectives on the field of medical genetics. McKusick is widely regarded as the father of medical genetics and the first to create a published database of information on human genetic diseases, helping to lay the groundwork for the Human Genome Project.

Daniel Nathans, M.D., the other researcher for whom the Institute is named, won the Nobel Prize in 1978 along with Hopkins colleague Hamilton Smith, for using enzymes as biochemical "scissors" to cleave and thus analyze DNA. Their work ushered in the genetic engineering revolution of the last two decades. Nathans died in 1999.

The McKusick-Nathans Institute for Genetic Medicine, created in January 1999, unites nine Hopkins centers, scores of physicians and scientists, and budgets worth tens of millions of dollars to consolidate much of the genetic disease research, education and treatment enterprises that had been scattered throughout the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. These include the Center for Inherited Disease Research, which offers gene analysis and interpretation services for scientists hunting for complex disease genes in a joint operation with the NIH; the Mendelian Inheritance in Man project, a database used globally to collate genetic findings; the Clinical Program in Genetic Medicine; a residency program in genetic medicine; the Greenberg Center for Skeletal Dysplasia, which unites research, diagnosis and care of patients with short stature; the Center for Craniofacial Development and Disorders, whose physicians investigate normal skull and facial development and the genetic events leading to malformation; the DNA Diagnostic Lab, which specializes in testing for 14 genetic conditions; the Predoctoral Training Program in Human Genetics, which is training the physicians and researchers who will lead the next generation’s genetic research and treatment; and The Genetics Resources Core Facility, a scientific "superstore" providing biochemical reagents and other products for researchers, as well as cell culturing, DNA analysis and research planning services.


McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine Inaugural Symposium



Edward Miller and Aravinda Chakravarti

9:00 – 9:45 Eric Lander: The Human Genome and Beyond

The Whitehead Institute, MIT, Cambridge, MA

9:50 – 10:35 Svante Paabo: Human Origins and History

From a Genetic Perspective.

Max Planck Institute, Leipzeig, Germany

10:40 – 11:00 BREAK

11:05 – 11:50 Barton Childs: Genomic Medicine

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

11:55 – 12:40 Francis Collins: Medical and Societal Implications of the Human Genome Project.

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

12:45 – 2:15 LUNCH BREAK

2:20 – 3:05 Susan Lindquist: From Mad Cows to "Psi-chotic" Yeast: New Paradigms in Genetics, Disease and Evolution

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chicago, IL

3:10 – 3:55 Edward Rubin: Jewels in Junk DNA: Exploiting the Mouse.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

4:00 – 4:20 BREAK

4:25 – 5:10 Lee Hartwell: Natural Genetic Variation, Gene Interactions and Complex Diseases

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA

5:15 – 5:30 Victor McKusick: Perspectives

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