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Completing the Book of Life: Epigenetics in Science and Medicine

a symposium

8:15 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Mountcastle Auditorium (NOTE NEW LOCATION)
Preclinical Teaching Building, 725 N. Wolfe St.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene function not due to mutations in the DNA sequence, provides the syntax, structural organization, developmental context and functional programs that give meaning to the sequence of letters in the genome's "Book of Life."

The broad applicability of epigenetics might surprise some researchers. The last decade has brought several profound and exciting insights into epigenetic mechanisms and the application of epigenetics to biology and medicine generally. For example, it is now known that histones show specific post-translational modifications that contain information and are at the heart of transcriptional regulation. And researchers have discovered that problems with DNA methylation and genomic imprinting can affect cancer risk and progression and brain and immune system disorders. But each new discovery reveals that epigenetic control of gene regulation and gene expression will have an impact beyond the fields in which it is currently being studied.

In this symposium, speakers from Johns Hopkins, the National Institutes of Health, the University of Arizona, Saint Louis University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Uppsala University will present the latest information on application of epigenetics in their research. The goals of the symposium are to demonstrate the field's applicability in diverse fields of scientific inquiry, to illustrate its potential to augment research in cancer, structural biology, plant biology and developmental biology, and to describe technology development efforts that would allow large-scale epigenetic analysis and integration of epigenetic studies in more areas of research. Moderators for the day's talks will be Jef Boeke of the School of Medicine and Judith Bender of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The symposium will begin at 8:15 a.m. with a continental breakfast. **Boxed lunches will be available for $10 each by RSVP by May 12 to Joanna Downer ( or 410-614-5105; please indicate your choice of turkey, chicken salad or vegetarian).

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences and the Center for Epigenetics in Common Human Disease at Johns Hopkins. 

8:15 am            Continental Breakfast for all attendees

9:00 - 9:15       Introduction        Andrew Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H.
                                              Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

9:15 - 9:45      "Chromatin boundaries"
                          Gary Felsenfeld, Ph.D.
                     Chief, Laboratory of Molecular Biology
                     National Institutes of Health

9:45 - 10:15    "Regulator of insulator function in Drosophila"
                          Victor Corces, Ph.D.
                     Professor, Department of Biology
                     The Johns Hopkins University

10:15 - 10:45   "Patterns generated by assembly of histone
                                      variants into nucleosomes"
                            Steve Henikoff, Ph.D.
                      Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute 
                      Division of Basic Sciences
                      Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

10:45 - 11:00   Coffee Break

11:00 - 11:30  "Yeast COMPASS points the way to human MLL  
                                    and its methylase function"
                          Ali Shilatifard, Ph.D.
                     Assoc. Prof., Dept. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
                     Scientific Director, Saint Louis Univ. Cancer Center
                     Saint Louis University School of Medicine

11:30 - 12:00   "Transcriptional control by ATP-driven
                                      chromatin remodeling complexes"
                            Carl Wu, Ph.D.
                      Chief, Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology
                      National Cancer Institute

12:00 - 12:30   "Histone covalent modifications in genome
                            Shelley Berger, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
                      University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

12:30 - 1:45   LUNCH BREAK **

1:45 - 2:15     "Sir2: An NAD+ dependent deacetylase involved 
                                  in transcriptional silencing and aging"
                         Cynthia Wolberger, Ph.D.
                    Professor, Dept. of Biophysics & Biophysical Chemistry
                    Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

2:15 - 2:45     "Promoter DNA hypermethylation, repressive 
                                 chromatin, and gene silencing: Critical events in  
                                 the initiation and maintenance of human cancer"
                         Stephen Baylin, M.D.
                    Ludwig Professor of Oncology, Dept. of Medicine
                    Director, Cancer Biology
                    Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

2:45 - 3:15     "RNAi-mediated epigenetic control of the genome"
                         Shiv Grewal, Ph.D.
                    Principal Investigator, Lab. of Molecular Cell Biology
                    National Cancer Institute

3:15 - 3:30    Coffee Break

3:30 - 4:00     "Heritable chromatin structures are established
                                through trans-interactions between tandem
                         Vicki Chandler, Ph.D.
                    Regents Professor, Department of Plant Sciences
                    University of Arizona

4:00 - 4:30     "Epigenetic control of intra-and interchromosomal
                         Rolf Ohlsson, Ph.D.
                    Professor, Department of Development and Genetics
                    Uppsala University

4:30 - 5:00     "Epigenetic mechanisms in common human disease"
                         Andrew Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H.
                    King Fahd Professor of Medicine
                    Director, Center of Excellence in Genome Sciences
                          in Epigenetics
                    Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

** Boxed lunches will be available for $10 for those who request one by May 12. See instructions above.