My Genes/My Health Science Café series to be held at Milwaukee School of Engineering

Aug. 2, 2012

The Community Engagement Key Function of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin will hold a series of Science Cafés at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Center for BioMolecular Modeling that are free and open to the public. The theme of the series is “My Genes/My Health,” and topics will include the benefits of DNA sequencing, the link between stress and marijuana, new advances in stem cell research, and a demonstration of modeling at a molecular level.

The series kicks off Tuesday, August 7, with a discussion led by Tim Herman, Ph.D., the director of the MSOE Center for Biomolecular Modeling. Dr. Herman will explain how information flows from DNA to protein, and guides the formation and governance of the human body—and all other forms of life. A variety of physical models of DNA and proteins will help demonstrate this phenomenon.

On Tuesday, September, 11, Elizabeth Worthey, Ph.D., assistant professor of bioinformatics at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) will lead a discussion entitled “Your DNA Sequence: What does it all mean?” Improvements in technology will soon make it possible to sequence your entire genome for $1000 or less, but the real challenge is to make sense of the data and use it to make medical decisions. Dr. Worthey led the team of bioinformaticists who sequenced the data of a young boy believed to be the first patient whose life was saved by DNA sequencing.

Marijuana’s effect on the brain is the subject of October’s Science Café, which will be held on Tuesday, the 16th. Cecilia Hillard, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and director of the Neuroscience Research Center at MCW, will discuss new insights into the way in which cannabinoids (the active ingredient of marijuana) interact with protein receptors to trigger effects in the brain, particularly moods and reactions to stress.

The “My Genes/My Health” Science Café series wraps up a discussion on stem cells and regenerative medicine led by Stephen Duncan, Ph.D., Marcus Professor of Human and Molecular Genetics at MCW. New breakthroughs in medicine now allow adult cells to be reprogrammed to become stem cells, eliminating many of the ethical issues formerly associated with stem cell research. Dr. Duncan will discuss the ways by which cells can be transformed, and the implications of this work on regenerative medicine.

All four Science Cafes will be held at the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Center for Molecular Modeling, located at 1025 N. Broadway Street in Milwaukee, on the second floor. Discussion begins at 6:00 p.m. and continues through 7:45 p.m. The discussions are designed to engage and involve members of the community, and all are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided as well as parking.

Registration for the March café is available now at, or contact Anne Kissack at (414) 955-5754 or Science Cafés are a program of the Community Engagement Key Function of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of Southeast Wisconsin. Funding for this program comes in part by the CTSI of southeastern Wisconsin and in part by Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Research and Education Initiative Fund, a component of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clin-ical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The eight member organizations of the CTSI are the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Froedtert Hospital and the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.

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