The College of Science presents the fifth of six free lectures on "Genomics Now." Current research is changing how we view DNA, the molecule essential to all life. This new series explores advances in genomics research including the genetic roots of disease and pandemics, how agriculture can satisfy our hungry planet, the role of the environment in individual development, and how genetic mutation affects species' survival.
Donata Vercelli, M.D., and University of Arizona professor of cellular and molecular medicine and director of the Arizona Center for the Biology of Complex Diseases, will give a talk titled "Epigenetics: Why DNA Is Not Our Destiny." Two twin sisters, one with and one without asthma. Two genetically identical mice, one black and lean, the other yellow and obese. Two human cells, one from the brain and the other from the skin: they look and act different, but they have the same DNA sequence. All of this is the work of epigenetics. Much emphasis has been placed on DNA and genes as repositories of the code designed to transmit information and dictate biological programs. However, developmental trajectories and responses to environmental cues are – and need to be – highly plastic. This plasticity is made possible by epigenetic mechanisms that enhance or silence gene expression at the right time in the right environmental context but do not change the DNA sequence. Thus the code inscribed in our DNA is necessary but not sufficient to recapitulate our biological identity and determine our biological destiny. This lecture will explore how understanding epigenetics will advance our understanding of human biology and disease.
Parking is available on a pay-per-use basis in the Tyndall Garage.