A March 30th symposium will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth by bringing together four leading geneticists whose research focuses on defining the DNA changes that distinguish humans from our closest evolutionary relatives, the non-human primates. The scientists’ body of work lays the foundation for a more complete understanding of human evolution and the molecular basis of diseases that only affect humans. Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D., director of the Genome Center, will share information gleaned from sequencing human genomes, including those from cancer patients; Evan Eichler, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, has uncovered genetic duplications in human DNA that contribute to diseases like autism and schizophrenia and that may also be responsible for human characteristics.
Ajit Varki, M.D., of the University of California at San Diego, investigates the many differences in sialic acid biology between humans and the great apes. Lucy R. Osborne, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto, studies the genetic rearrangements that lead to an inherited syndrome in humans called Williams-Beuren, which is caused by genetic rearrangements on chromosome 7. The symposium, jointly sponsored by the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and The Genome Center, will be held in Moore Auditorium from 1-5 pm.