USC Holds 2nd Annual Medical Genetics Symposium; Nations Leading Geneticists Discuss The Future Of Genomic Research

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6, 1997 -- Geneticists working on the Human Genome Project have sequenced just 2 percent of the 3 billion DNA base pairs that make up our genetic code. Yet, many are already looking ahead to what's next, namely, what scientists will do once they've mapped out all of the human genes.

On Jan. 23, 1998, USC and visiting scholars will convene at the second annual Institute for Genetic Medicine Symposium, "Genomic Genetics," to explore what forms post-Genome Project research may take.

Nobel Prize-winning biologist David Baltimore, now president of California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, will begin the day-long conference with a keynote speech entitled "Cell Life and Cell Death." In subsequent presentations, some of the nation's leading geneticists will speak about their gene studies on a wide range of living things -- from bacteria and yeast to plants, mice and humans.

"In the future, human geneticists will think genomically, rather than one gene at a time," said Juergen Reichardt, USC School of Medicine assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and symposium organizer. "Complex human traits are clearly determined by multiple genes and most probably by other factors. In these cases a genomic approach is more appropriate."

Based on what's happened with E. coli and yeast, two of the first goals will be figuring out the function of the genes that have been sequenced and applying that information in the clinic. Scientists may also find it easier to study evolutionary relationships, how genes interact with each other and how genes interact with the environment. What's most exciting to some scientists is that access to the genomic sequence will enable them to spend more time investigating -- hunting for links between genes and disease, for example -- instead of doing rote gene cloning.

Symposium speakers will include:

  • David Bramhill, a biochemist at Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, NJ, who will spe

Contact: Eva Emerson
University of Southern California

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