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Announcing the 2010 Molecular and Cellular Biology Symposium

Sep 2010 | Michelle 1,254 Comments

Ever wonder why your skin is not your brain? It’s not such an odd question; both body parts derive from the same germ layers of your embryonic self. In your early beginnings, the cells that give rise to your skin look and act the same as those that give rise to your nervous system. They have the exact same information stored in their genetic code. Why your skin is not your brain: bioplasticity.

As students of molecular and cellular biology, we study the inner workings of living things. We want to know how they  live, how they grow, how they respond to environmental cues. So we examine the genetic code, but we also study the layers upon layers of regulation that exist to interpret that code in myriad ways, giving rise to the awe-inspiring complexity of biology.

It is this concept—bioplasticity—that motivates the 2010 MCB Symposium, which will be held on Monday, October 18th, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

For the past year, a team of students has been organizing a one-day event in which experts will share their work relating to biological plasticity. The goal of this symposium, in the words of the organizing committee, is “to help us unravel the plastic nature of biology and to foster an open exchange of ideas regarding how we can leverage this property to solve important social, environmental, and medical problems.”

The MCB Symposium will feature six experts paving the way in their respective fields:

Laura Landweber examines how genetic information is organized, processed, and even unscrambled by studying the complex and seemingly strange genetic systems used by protists.

Eva Nogales studies structural features that are important for the assembly of macromolecular complexes.

Helen Blau is a pioneer in the field of stem cell fates and nuclear reprogramming.

Dennis Discher studies the biophysics of the environmental cues influencing cell differentiation.

Michael Elowitz studies various aspects of genetic circuits and how these features are important biologically.

Walter Fontana uses a systems biology approach to study the integration of biological information as well as evolvability.

Mark your calendars for October 18th! We’re looking forward to hearing from the speakers in this impressive lineup, and we hope you are too.  The presentation schedule begins at 10am and concludes at 4:45pm, followed by a reception until 5:30pm. Fliers advertising the event will be posted soon.

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