The 26th Annual Genetics Day 2014, held recently at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry campus, had an extra special keynote lecture by one of the latest Nobel Laureates, Randy W. Schekman, Ph.D. Genetics Day is an annual flagship symposium showcasing genetics research across the University. It was sponsored by the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Department of Biomedical Genetics, and the Department of Biology and was co-chaired by faculty members Dirk P. Bohmann, Ph.D., professor of Biomedical Genetics and David Goldfarb, Ph.D., professor of Biology at the University of Rochester.
Sheckman shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine 2013 for discovering a group of genes necessary for trafficking molecules in tiny, sac-like vesicles within cells. Read more here. In his keynote, Sheckman discussed the overall direction of his lab, starting with the early days of isolating vesicle mutants in yeast to the current goals of his lab. The second part of his talk focused on how he feels the use of “impact factor,” a measurement based on the number of citations to recent articles in a publication, is leading to an increase in fabricated results and hurried, unsubstantiated work by scientists. He is chief editor of eLife, a new journal conceptualized by leading scientists who oppose the use of impact factor to judge the importance of a publication.
In addition, Benoit Biteau, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biomedical Genetics, presented his research about the regulation of intestinal stem cells using fruit flies as a model organism. Dragony Fu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biology, presented his research on a class of enzymes called AlkB Dioxygenases and its diverse functions in DNA integrity and modification and cell damage regulation. Mark E. Mapstone, Ph.D., associate professor of Neurology, talked about his discovery of a novel screening strategy for predicting Alzheimer’s disease. Jian Zhu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology, presented a talk on techniques to identify novel proteins implicated in virus-host interactions with special emphasis on HIV. The talks were followed by a poster session, where students and trainees from across campus presented their research and were awarded prizes.
The afternoon saw a special session in remembrance of Fred Sherman, Ph.D., the legendary geneticist, longtime faculty member, and former chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics. An endowment fund was instituted in his name to perpetuate the tradition of Genetics Day. Read more about him here.