Public Release: 

Conference to highlight medical advances resulting from 50 years of DNA knowledge

University of California - San Diego

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the description of DNA structure by James Watson and Francis Crick, the Gene Therapy Program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and the journal, Science, will bring together many of the world renowned scientists who have spearheaded the era of molecular medicine.

Titled "A Celebration of 50 Years in Medicine," the symposium will be held Nov. 14-15 at the Price Center Theater on the UCSD campus in La Jolla, California. Information is available at 858-534-3940 or

Speakers will describe the impact of the DNA findings on real-world medical treatment, according to symposium coordinator Theodore Friedmann, M.D., UCSD professor of pediatrics; director, UCSD Program in Human Gene Therapy; and chair, Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health.

Among the presenters will be Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, which recently announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project; J. Craig Venter, PhD, president of The Center for the Advancement of Genomics and head of the private group that sequenced most of the human genome; Sir David Weatherall, a pioneering researcher in molecular genetics; Margaret Liu, MD, whose investigations in plasmid DNA-based vaccines has helped immunologists attack diseases such as cancer and AIDS; Janet Rowley, MD, Lasker Prize recipient and prominent cancer researcher; Stuart Orkin, MD, a specialist in stem cell research; and Nobel Prize winners J. Michael Bishop, MD, UC San Francisco, and the Salk Institute's Sydney Brenner, PhD and Renato Dulbecco, MD.

In an article noting the 50th anniversary, the Los Angeles Times commented that without understanding the structure of DNA, there would be no biotech industry, no Human Genome Project, "not a whisper of a chance for stem-cell therapy, and oceans of ignorance about the workings of our bodies in sickness and in health."

While many of the celebrations held this year have focused on the science surrounding the discovery 50 years ago, the UCSD symposium will emphasize the translation of genetic and genomic knowledge to the patient's bedside.


Topics and speakers will be:
Phenotype-Genotype Relationships in Human Disease
David Weatherall, FRS
Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine
University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Disease Models
Session Chair: Renato Dulbecco, MD
The Salk Institute
La Jolla, California

Mouse Models of Human Disease: From Cancer to Psychiatric Disorders
Mario Capecchi, Ph.D.
Professor of Human Genetics and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of Utah School of Medicine

Modeling the Molecular Pathogenesis of Cancer
J. Michael Bishop, MD
University of California, San Francisco

Searching for Breast Cancer Genes: Families, Maps, and Sequences
Marie-Claire King, PhD
Division of Medical Genetics
University of Washington, Seattle

Comparative Genomics Towards Gene-based Medicine
And Session Chair, Gene-based Medicine Therapy and Prevention
Yoshiyuki Sakaki, PhD
Professor, Institute of Medical Science
The University of Tokyo, Japan

Rare and Common Disease Genes in a Population: From Diagnosis to Prevention
Leena Peltonen, MD, PhD
Department of Medical Genetics & Molecular Medicine
And National Public Health Institute of Finland
Helsinki Finland

Genetics of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Anthony P. Monaco, MD, PhD
University of Oxford
Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics
United Kingdom

Gene-based Therapy and Prevention
Session Chair: Janet Rowley, MD
Department of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology
The University of Chicago

Impact of Imatinib Mesyiate on the Treatment of CML
Brian Druker, MD
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland

From Disease Mechanism to C Gene) Therapy: The Example of the Genetic Immune Disorder
Alain Fischer, MD, PhD
Faculte de Medecine
Hospital Necker-Enfantes Malades
Paris, France

Gene-Based Vaccines and Immuno Therapeutics
Margaret Liu, MD
Karolinska Institute
Lafayette, California

The Therapeutic Applications of Ribozymes and RNAi for AIDS
John Rossi, PhD
Chair and Professor, Division of Molecular Biology
City of Hope National Medical Center
Duarte, California

Genomics, Medicine and Society
And Session Chair: Gene-based Drug Design, Pharmacogenomics
Francis Collins, MD, PhD
Director, National Human Genome Research Institute
Bethesda, Maryland

Seven Membrane Spanning Receptors: How did we get here and where are we going?
Robert J. Lefkowitz, MD
James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Future of Gene-based Medicine
Session Chair: Francis Collins, MD, PhD

Stem Cell Biology and Human Disease
Stuart Orkin, MD
Chairman, Department of Pediatric Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
David G. Nathan Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Systems Biology and Predictive, Preventive, and Personalized Medicine
Lee Hood, MD, PhD
President, Institute for Systems Biology
Seattle, Washington

Advancing the Revolution Through Genomic-based Medicine
J. Craig Venter, PhD
President, The Center for the Advancement of Genomics
Rockville, Maryland

The Genome and Human Rights
Daniel Kevles, PhD
Department of History, Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Closing Address - Humanity's Genes
Sydney Brenner, PhD
The Salk Institute
La Jolla, California

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