Personalized medicine holds great promise for treating maladies according to an individual's genomic profile. Companies in Switzerland, the US and Australia are working to commercialize this knowledge to offer patients a personalized map charting potential health risks so they can take appropriate action. There is even the possibility to offer match-making services based on DNA.
Swiss researchers are also taking up an important role by looking into the influence of stem cell research on this process. Where is stem cell research at today? How far are we from finding cures? Are creating the perfect babies and commercialized DNA just around the corner?
Join swissnex San Francisco for a intimate panel discussion with Prof. Georg A. Hollaender, Head of the laboratory of Pediatric Immunology at the University of Basel and Dr. Alan Trounson, Director of the California Center for Regenerative Medicine to flesh out these issues, with journalist Evan Ratliff on hand to moderate this timely conversation.
Prof. Georg Hollaender
Prof. Georg Hollaender, Ph.D., is Head of the laboratory of Pediatric Immunology at the University of Basel's Department of Biomedicine and Head of the department of research at University Children's Hospital of Basel. He is also an Associate Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Montreal, Canada.
Dr. Hollaender is a researcher and pediatric immunologist interested in the development and function of the immune system in health and disease. His particular scientific interests are focused on two topics: the molecular and cellular control of thymus development and function, and the damage to thymic structure and function as a consequence of bone marrow transplantation. Over the last few years, Dr. Hollaender's work has contributed to a better understanding of the molecular and cellular controls that shape the normal formation of the thymus.
With his research team he identified novel molecules and evolutionarily well-conserved signaling pathways that are intimately involved in these processes. The results from these studies form the basis to identify thymic epithelial precursor/stem cells that can be used in the future for cell replacement therapies in individuals deficient of a normal thymus function.
Elissa Levin, M.S., CGC, a board-certified Genetic Counselor, is the Director of the Genetic Counseling Program at Navigenics. Her experience ranges from the research lab to medical centers to the Internet, and she has provided genetic counseling in many settings, including directly to consumers via telephone and the Web. She earned a master of science degree in genetic counseling from Arcadia University in Philadelphia and is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. She began her career focused on the genetics of heart disease, providing genetic counseling and education to families and staff in the cardiology division of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
At the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, she counseled clients of all ages about general and metabolic genetics and coordinated clinical trials for enzyme replacement therapy. Most recently, she helped pioneer DNA Direct, one of the first direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies, providing testing, education and counseling services for specific medical conditions. Her broader efforts to improve health care by setting high standards for providing reliable, quality genetics services through the Internet have led to nationwide lectures, workshops and training sessions.
Evan Ratliff is a contributing editor for Wired magazine.
He writes on science, technology, crime, and the environment, and last year undertook a Navigenics DNA scan for a piece in Men's Journal. He is the co-author of Safe: The Race to Protect Ourselves in a Newly Dangerous World (HarperCollins, 2005), about innovation and counter-terrorism.
Dr. Alan Trounson
Alan Trounson, Ph.D., is Head of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Prior to this he was Professor of Stem Cell Sciences and Director, Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories at Monash University, and the Founder of the National Biotechnology Centre of Excellence Australian Stem Cell Centre, as well as Global Scientific Strategy Advisor.
Professor Trounson graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1971 with an M.Sc. in Wool and Pastoral Sciences. In 1974 he was awarded a Ph.D. in animal embryology by Sydney University. From 1974-1976 he was awarded the Dalgety Research Fellow at the ARC Institute of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry at Cambridge University. In 1977 he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at Monash University, and by 1984 was a Reader in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Sequence of nucleotides in DNA and RNA that determines the amino acid sequence of proteins. A messenger RNA molecule synthesized from the DNA directs the synthesis of the protein. Three adjacent nucleotides constitute a unit known as a codon; each codon codes for a single amino acid. There are 64 possible codons, 61 of which specify the 20 amino acids that make up proteins. Because most of the 20 amino acids are coded for by more than one codon, the code is called degenerate. Once thought to be identical in all forms of life, the genetic code has been found to vary slightly in certain organisms and in the mitochondria of some eukaryotes.
The speaker closest to the guy asking the questions makes a mistake when he is talking about cystic fibrosis in chapter 3...he says if both parents have the CF gene there is a 50% chance of them having an affected child...it's actually 1/4 or 25% as it's autosomal recessive. Odd how such an expert would get something so rudimentary wrong...maybe just nervous.