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CALENDAR ITEM: 11th Annual MU Life Sciences and Society Symposium to be Held March 13-15

Symposium to focus on “epigenetics” and its implications for human health

March 17th, 2015

Story Contact: Jeff Sossamon, 573-882-3346,

WHAT: The 11th Annual Life Sciences and Society Symposium (LSSP) will be held at the University of Missouri campus from March 13-15. This year’s theme, “The Epigenetics Revolution: Nature, Nurture and What Lies Ahead,” will focus on the emerging science of epigenetics and its implications for human health, behavior and society.

Epigenetics is the branch of science that studies the regulation of genes and other genetic material. Epigenetic instructions are required for each cell in each organ to work appropriately.

The 2015 LSSP Symposium will explore what epigenetics means, discuss how epigenetic effects work, and explore examples of how environmental toxins, stress, social trauma and diet can affect genetic expression.  Speakers will focus on the implications of epigenetics for human health and medicine, the history and social implications of the fast-evolving field of epigenetics research.

The symposium will be held in Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center, MU Campus – for a full list of all speakers, please see the symposium schedule. Interdisciplinary presenters include:

  • Annie Murphy Paul, science writer and author of Origins: How the Nine Months before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives. Paul will discuss “Sharing Epigenetic Research with the Public” and will recount how she researched and reported on new finding in epigenetics and how she translates these findings for the layperson. 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 13.
  • Tracy Bale, professor of neuroscience and animal biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Bale will present “Stress Parents: Maternal and Paternal Epigenetic Programming of the Developing Brain.” Using mouse models to study the development of human neuropsychiatric diseases, Bale will discuss schizophrenia and autism and how parental lifetime exposure to stress, infection and malnutrition can contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. 9 a.m., Saturday, March 14.
  • Oliver Rando, professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Rando will present “You Are What Your Father Ate.” Using genomic tools to study intergenerational epigenetic effects, his work focuses on the effect of a father’s diet on offspring genes and behavior. 10:30 a.m., Saturday, March 14.
  • Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public health sciences at the University of California-Davis. Hertz-Picciotto will present “Environment and Autism: Past Evidence, Current Research and Future Quandaries.” An environmental epidemiologist, Hertz-Picciotto focuses on the effects of environmental toxins on human disease. 2:15 p.m., Saturday March 14.

WHERE: Monsanto Auditorium
Bond Life Sciences Center, MU Campus

WHEN: Friday, March 13 –  Sunday, March 15

NOTE: No tickets are required, but free online registration is encouraged at:

Symposium schedule can be found here:

Speaker information can be found here:

Affiliated Events:

  • Generations: Reproduction, Heredity and Epigenetics, month-long exhibit, Ellis Library Colonnade, Ellis Library, MU Campus.
  • Karthik Panchanathan, assistant professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Science at MU, will present “Genes, Culture and Evolution,” a discussion of how anthropologists study model and cultural evolution and how natural selection resulted in the human capacity for culture. 1 p.m., Monday, March 9, Ellis Library Government Documents Section, Ellis Library, MU Campus.
  • Sir Michael Rutter, professor of developmental psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, will present “Profound Global Institutional Deprivation: The Example of the English and the Romanian Adoptee Study.” Discussion will focus on the English and Romanian Adoptee (ERA) project, an investigation of the development of a random sample of Romanian children, most of whom spent their early live in severely deprived institutional settings and how they changed once they were adopted. 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 17, Jesse Wrench Auditorium, Memorial Union, MU Campus.