Leader: Anna Reeves

Description:  Since the dawn of genetic engineering in the early 1970s, the field of human genetics has been rapidly developing.  Advances in molecular biology allowing scientists to dissect and manipulate the  deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule led to the revolution in practical genetic fields such as genetically modified organisms, DNA fingerprinting, cloning, and gene therapy, to name just a few.

However, the medical profession has only started to wrestle with the many social and moral questions posed by the startling progress in these fields. Does the state have a right to compel individuals to undergo mandatory genetic testing? Should a physician have a right to warn close relatives about a serious genetic risk of a patient, or should the physician be liable for failing to warn? Should the courts trying a criminal prosecution admit evidence that a defendant was born with a genetic predisposition to violence? Should all convicted felons have a DNA sample typed and stored in a databank, thus creating a genetic version of fingerprint files?

In our short course we will explore some of the controversial issues in genetics such as genetic diseases, forensic science, genetic basis of behavior and mental illness, genetically modified plants and animals, genetic testing, and ethical issues in genetics.  Our class will include both lecture and discussion; 5- to 10-minute presentations by participants on the topics of their choice will be encouraged. A study guide for the textbook will be provided.

Biography:   Anna Reeves has a M.Sc. and Ph.D. from St. Petersburg State University in Russia with majors in molecular biology, biochemistry and radiation biology. An invitation from the National Institutes of Health provided the opportunity to expand her studies of radiation-induced cell death. Fellowships at NIH and later at the American Red Cross involved other projects, including characterization of autoantigens in diabetes, generation of transgenic animals, gene transcriptional regulation, etc. At the Weis Center for Research she was involved in collaborative projects studying the molecular mechanisms and signal transduction pathways in cancer. She has taught genetics at Susquehanna University, King's College and Bloomsburg University.

Materials for course:   Our textbook will be Abraham Lincoln's DNA and Other Adventures in Genetics by Philip R. Reilly, 2000 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, ISBN 0-87969-649-4.  This book will communicate in a clear and simple manner the fundamentals of biology. There are really two books: one obvious book, a collection of 24 stories about genetics, and the other, hidden inside the 24 stories, is a mini-genetics textbook.

Number of participants:      

Minimum: 6      
Maximum: 16

Location: East Buffalo Township Bldg, Community Hall

Meeting time:  Wednesdays, February 26 through April 2, 2014, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

 

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