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Lectures launch yearlong exploration of new biology

Craig Chamberlain , News Editor
(217) 333-2894; cdchambe@illinois.edu

9/6
/2001

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — What are the implications now that the human genome has been sequenced? How will that scientific breakthrough, along with others in the field of biology, affect various areas of human life, from health and medicine to food production?

Exploring those questions is the goal of a yearlong initiative at the University of Illinois, "The New Biology: Issues and Opportunities," which formally begins with two lectures over the next month and will climax with a two-day conference in March. The initiative is sponsored by the UI’s Center for Advanced Study.

The first lecture, "Sequencing the Human Genome: Elucidating Our Genetic Blueprint," begins at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, in the auditorium of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana.

The speaker will be Eric Green, chief of the Genome Technology Branch and director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center at the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. Green will talk about how the human genome is empowering investigators to tackle complex problems in human biology and disease, and how it will likely change biomedical research and the practice of medicine.

A second lecture, "Post-Genomics and the Concept of Race in Science: Tensions, Contradictions and Resolutions," begins at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 in Illini Rooms A and B at the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

The speaker will be Troy Duster, a Chancellor’s Professor and director of the American Cultures Center at the University of California at Berkeley, and a professor of sociology at New York

Duster will talk about how scientists are struggling with the meaning of race in the aftermath of sequencing the human genome. The leaders of that effort have noted that all humans are alike in 99.9 percent of their DNA, and they have said that proves that race has no meaning. Yet, the genome has produced new fields such as pharmacogenomics, which is working to produce ethnically and racially targeted pharmaceuticals.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.

More information about the New Biology initiative can be found at the Center for Advanced Study web site: www.cas.uiuc.edu.