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Stanford launches public lecture series on genomic medicine

Nobel laureate Berg and former Secretary of State Shultz highlight Jan. 26 lecture

Stanford University

Stanford University is offering a series of free monthly lectures designed to enhance public understanding of the Human Genome Project and the revolution in genomic medicine. The lecture series, titled ''Sequencing the Human Genome: What Does It Tell Us About Ourselves,'' will be held in Fairchild Auditorium on the Stanford campus.

The first lecture, "Biomedical Innovations: Confronting the Polity," will be presented by Nobel laureate Paul Berg on Monday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. PST. Refreshments will be served at 5 p.m.

Berg, the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor of Cancer Research, Emeritus, at Stanford, is a pioneer in the field of genetic engineering. He will be introduced by former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution. A 10-minute question-and-answer period will follow Berg's lecture.

The second lecture, focusing on stem cell research, will take place on Friday, Feb. 20, at 4 p.m., following a 3 p.m. reception. The lecture will be presented by stem cell researcher Dr. Irving Weissman, the Karel and Avice Beekhuis Professor of Cancer Biology at Stanford. He will be introduced by Dr. Philip Pizzo, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine.

The third lecture, on genomics and race, will be held on Wednesday, March 17, at 6 p.m., following a reception at 5 p.m. The lecture will be delivered by Stanford geneticist Marcus Feldman, the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Feldman will be introduced by Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in the Stanford Department of Biological Sciences and author of Human Natures: Genes, Culture and the Human Prospect. Lectures on other topics also are planned for April and May.

Communicating science

The Genomic Medicine Public Lecture Series was the brainchild of Renu Heller, a former scientist at Stanford and senior scientist with the Hoffmann-La Roche pharmaceutical corporation. She now serves as a consulting professor in biological sciences, human biology and Bio-X, Stanford's multidisciplinary biosciences program.

"People are confused about controversial issues like stem cell research," Heller said. "It's our fault as scientists, because we do not communicate with the public. We hear all this news about the discovery of the structure of DNA, 'the blueprint of life,' 50 years ago by James Watson and Francis Crick; the Human Genome Project; the sequencing of human DNA; predispositions to disease and so on, but what does the public get from it?"

Heller encourages members of the general public to attend the lecture series, which is being sponsored by the Stanford Department of Biological Sciences with financial support from Peter Bing, a member of the Stanford Board of Trustees. For more information, contact Heller at 650-327-4528 or


By Mark Shwartz

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