Genomic researcher to speak at ISU

March 18 2008

TERRE HAUTE ��" In celebrating the 55 years since the discovery of DNA’s structure, Indiana State University is having an equine genomic researcher serve as its annual Double Helix Speaker.

Teri Lear, an associate research professor at the M.H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky, will speak at 4 p.m. March 25 in Science Building Room 12 as part of the Life Sciences Seminar Series. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 p.m. for the event, which is free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Lear specializes in equine genomics, but she also studies other members of the family Equidae, such as the hemiones, zebras, and other Perissodactyls, such as rhinos and tapirs. Lear is one of 10 leading experts in horse cytogenetics, the study of chromosomes and cell division, in the world.

“Prior to 1952, it was thought that proteins, not DNA, controlled heredity,” said Rusty Gonser, Indiana State assistant professor of life sciences. “At that point the race was on to describe the shape of DNA and how it functioned.”

On April 23, 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick, aided by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, published their three-page description of DNA in “Nature” magazine.

“The discovery has lead science in a quest to identify and understand an organism’s genome,” Gonser said. “The description of the double helix will continue to shape millenniums to come through research in functional genomics and cloning.”

The description of the shape of DNA, the double helix, was named one of the top 100 events that shaped the previous millennium by Life magazine.

The Life Sciences Seminar Series is an opportunity for students at ISU to be exposed to on-going research at leading institutions, Gonser said.

“It’s an opportunity for them to hear from some of the cutting-edge scientists in the U.S., if not the world,” he said. “That scientific community and culture is being brought to ISU and the students get to walk away with their knowledge.”

Lear’s knowledge also will have an impact upon research at Indiana State as she has recently begun a collaboration with Elaina Tuttle, ISU associate professor of life sciences, and Gonser to look at the genomics of white-throated sparrows.

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Contact: Rusty Gonser, Indiana Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium director and Indiana State University assistant professor of life sciences at 812-237-3010 or rgonser@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@indstate.edu

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In celebrating the 55 years since the discovery of DNA's structure, Indiana State University is having an equine genomic researcher serve as its annual Double Helix Speaker.

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