Understanding the Epigenetics of Birth Defects

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Guest Speaker: Laura Harmacek

Conversations in Local Health Research

Friday, April 12, 2013

10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Ricketson Auditorium

Brown Bag Lunch with speaker to follow presentation

Understanding the Epigenetics of Birth Defects

2013-04-12 Harmacek , Laura Sm

The intricate highway of nerves, combined with the tissues that support and protect them, makes up the human nervous system. Development of this system begins in the first weeks of pregnancy when fetal cells form a neural tube. One in every 1,000 babies are born with a neural tube defect (NTD) which occurs when the neural tube does not close completely, making it one of the most common forms of all birth defects. Examples of NTDs include such devastating defects as spina bifida and anencephaly. While traditional gene-based approaches have been unsuccessful in helping doctors to understand and prevent NTD, the new field of epigenetics has offered new pathways towards explaining the cause of this disease. Join us for a presentation you won’t want to miss. Our speaker will present the field of epigenetics and how scientists from the University of Colorado are taking advantage of these cutting edge techniques to better understand and prevent neural tube defects.

Laura Harmacek is a PhD Candidate in Molecular Biology, and President of AIS Career Development Club. Her advisor is Lee Niswander, PhD in the department of Pediatrics at University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus.

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