Evolution & Revolution: Transforming Medicine through Comparative Genomics main content.

Evolution & Revolution: Transforming Medicine through Comparative Genomics

Part of Events for Adults

Monday, October 28, 2019

Rendering of DNA strand and pill capsules.
Just like species, genes evolve over time.

What can genetic evolution—both in our species and between different species—teach us about our own health? Discover the latest research on human genomes and the genomes of animals across the tree of life—and the profound implications this work has for the study of human genetics and health—with population geneticist David Reich of Harvard University, genomic medicine researcher David Goldstein of Columbia University, evolutionary biologist and Museum Curator Frank Burbrink, and neurogeneticist Mimi Shirasu-Hiza of Columbia University, moderated by New York Times science journalist Pam Belluck.

Explore how natural selection works at a genomic level and how a fruit fly can provide insights into human diseases. Experts reveal how comparing genomes of closely related primate species, and even extinct Neanderthals, can reveal the immune profile of other species and advance understanding of disease resistance and adaptation. Learn about the latest genomic sequencing technologies that are allowing a wider range of species to be sequenced faster and cheaper. This program is presented as part of the 150th Anniversary Milstein Science Symposium.

About the Presenters

Mimi Shirasu-Hiza

Associate Professor of Genetics and Development, Columbia University Medical Center. Shirasu-Hiza aims to understand how specific circadian-regulated physiological functions contribute to health and disease using Drosophila melanogaster. We now have three major foci for our research: innate immune cell function; metabolism; and sleep. Our overarching goal is to use circadian biology as a prism to understand the interaction, coordination, and regulation of complex physiologies in the whole animal that contribute to disease pathology.

David Reich

Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Reich studies DNA and human population structures to make discoveries at the interface of biology and anthropology. Reich and his team combine their skills in molecular biology, computer science, math, bioarchaeology, and genetics to generate large-scale data from ancient DNA, which they mine to gain insights about human biology and disease. A major focus of their work has been the population genetics of risk factors for certain diseases. The team has also developed methods for analyzing data from modern and ancient DNA to learn about changing population structure and admixture events over time and to better understand the impact of selection on human evolution.

David Goldstein

Director, Institute for Genomic Medicine, Columbia University (and an organizer of the HGNYC conference). Goldstein’s research focuses on many aspects of human genetic variation including human genetic diversity, the genetics of disease, and pharmacogenetics. First at Duke University and now at Columbia University, his group, along with large networks of collaborators, has been responsible for a number of well-known discoveries including the gene responsible for Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood and the role of the IL28B gene in treatment response to Hepatitis C infection.

Frank Burbrink

Curator-in-Charge, Department of Herpetology, Division of Vertebrate Zoology; Principal Investigator, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics; and Associate Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. Burbrink examines the evolutionary history and biogeography of reptiles and amphibians across the world. Within this research framework, he is currently investigating population genetics, phylogeography and systematics of snakes. Additionally, he also conducts research on divergence dating techniques using integrated molecular phylogenies and fossil data, theoretical phylogenetics, and species tree estimation using genomic data. To generate realistic models and properly address questions within these major areas of ecology and evolutionary biology, Dr. Burbrink has developed methods to integrate genomic, environmental and morphological data.

The 150th Anniversary Milstein Science Symposium is proudly sponsored by the Irma and Paul Milstein Family.