March 2012

The New GenomeLIFE Issue: Education 2012

Genome Explorations Week

The new issue of GenomeLIFE will hit the stands any day. This issue highlights IGSP undergraduates past and present and the interconnected series of IGSP programs and offerings, from Focus to Summer Fellows to the GSP Certificate, that have helped them find their passions and career paths. And catch up with alums including Swathi Padmanabhan, Kelly Schiabor, Alessa Colaianni, Marni Siegel and Jared Blau.


The education issue also features the Computational Biology & Bioinformatics (CBB) PhD Program, which is thriving in the interdisciplinary and collaborative environment at Duke. As first-year student Rotem Ben-Shachar says, "There is something really special here. It's truly interdisciplinary, and the faculty and students are just so excited to do science."


Be sure to pick up a copy and, as always, if you have a story idea for a future GenomeLIFE issue, please drop us a line at


Also note that the IGSP is cosponsoring an appearance by Richard Dawkins featuring his new book "The Magic of Reality" later this month. Free tickets are available to members of the Duke community beginning today (Thursday, March 1st) at



Myriad Cert Petition Now Fully Briefed
Bob Cook-Deegan signed an amicus brief in support of petitioners challenging the patent eligibility of isolated DNA and urging the high court to take the case against Myriad Genetics over its BRCA patents, Bloomberg reported.

Why Cognitive Enhancement Is in Your Future (and Your Past)
Using technology to enhance our brains sounds terrifying, but using tools to make ourselves smarter may be part of humans' nature, says an article in The Atlantic featuring Duke Bioethicist Allen Buchanan.

How Did Human Brains Get to Be So Big?
A Scientific American blog post features work by Olivier Fedrigo and Greg Wray exploring humans' big, hungry brains.

New Way to Study Bacterial Genetics
Through genomics, Duke researchers are revolutionizing the study of the genes that turn friendly microbes into deadly pathogens, The News & Observer reported.

Bringing Evolutionary Science to the Community
"Our goal is not to talk about any kind of perceived concepts about evolution, religion or creationism, but to talk about the exciting things that are going on in evolutionary science," says Allen Rodrigo, director of NESCent in a National Science Foundation article featured by U.S. News & World Report.


Cyclin-Dependent Kinases Are Regulators and Effectors of Oscillations Driven by a Transcription Factor Network
Laura Simmons Kovacs, Sayan Mukherjee and Steve Haase report a model in Molecular Cell in which cyclin expression is entrained to an autonomous transcriptional oscillator.

The Viral and Cellular MicroRNA Targetome in Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines
In PLoS Pathogens, Uwe Ohler is a collaborator on a study revealing that Epstein-Barr virus miRNAs predominantly target cellular transcripts during latent infection, thereby manipulating the host environment.

Time-Dependent Changes in Non-COX-1-Dependent Platelet Function with Daily Aspirin Therapy
Deepak Voora, Geoff Ginsburg and colleagues measured the temporal response to aspirin in healthy volunteers and diabetics with results reported in the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis.

Etiological Features of Borderline Personality Related Characteristics in a Birth Cohort of 12-Year-Old Children
In Developmental Psychopathology, Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi report evidence to suggest that inherited and environmental risk factors make independent and interactive contributions to borderline etiology.

Effects of Sequence Variation on Differential Allelic Transcription Factor Occupancy and Gene Expression
In Genome Research, Tim Reddy led a study with collaborators Greg Crawford, Hunt Willard and others that highlights the potential for allelic differences in transcription factor occupancy to give functional insights into intergenic variants associated with disease.

Dissecting the Regulatory Architecture of Gene Expression QTLs
In Genome Biology, Greg Crawford is a collaborator on a study that demonstrates how regulatory annotation and the association signal derived from eQTL-mapping can be combined into a single framework.

DNaseI Sensitivity QTLs Are a Major Determinant of Human Expression Variation
Greg Crawford is a collaborator of a study in Nature indicating that dsQTLs are highly abundant in the human genome and are likely to be important contributors to phenotypic variation.

Transcriptional Switches Direct Plant Organ Formation and Patterning
Philip Benfey and colleagues review recent literature of switches operating in cell fate decisions that are regulated by transcriptional mechanisms in Current Topics in Developmental Biology.

Engineering Microbial Systems to Explore Ecological and Evolutionary Dynamics
In Current Opinion in Biotechnology, Lingchong You and colleagues present recent developments in engineered microbial systems and discuss how they were used to address problems in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Using Confirmatory Factor Analysis to Measure Contemporaneous Activation of Defined Neuronal Networks in Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
In Neuroimage, Ahmad Hariri and colleagues say that confirmatory factor analysis is a convenient hypothesis-driven modeling environment that can be used to conduct formal statistical tests comparing alternative hypotheses regarding the elements of putative neuronal networks.

Imaging Genetics and the Neurobiological Basis of Individual Differences in Vulnerability to Addiction
In Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Ahmad Hariri and colleagues conclude that variation in genes related to dopamine signaling may contribute to heterogeneity in the brain's sensitivity to reward and, ultimately, to addiction.

Uncoupling of Genomic and Epigenetic Signals in the Maintenance and Inheritance of Heterochromatin Domains in Fission Yeast
In Genetics, Bayly Wheeler, Brandon Ruderman, Hunt Willard and Kristin Scott report evidence for chromatin-dependent, epigenetic control of gene silencing that is heritable, stable, and self-sustaining, even in the absence of the originating genomic signals.

Characterization of an Oxaliplatin Sensitivity Predictor in a Preclinical Murine Model of Colorectal Cancer
In Molecular Cancer Therapy, David Hsu and colleagues present findings to suggest that patient-derived colorectal cancer explants can be a novel source to study drug sensitivity in vivo.

Characterization of the Poly-T Variant in the TOMM40 Gene in Diverse Populations
In PLoS One, Ornit Chiba-Falek and Allen Roses explore the frequency of TOMM40 variants earlier associated with age-of-onset of Alzheimer's disease in diverse populations.

Discovery of a Modified Tetrapolar Sexual Cycle in Cryptococcus amylolentus and the Evolution of MAT in the Cryptococcus Species Complex
In PLoS Genetics, Fred Dietrich and Joe Heitman report studies that reveal insights into the plasticity and transitions in sex determination and sexual reproduction in Cryptococcus with implications for similar evolutionary transitions and processes in fungi, plants and animals.


For details and updates on IGSP seminars and events, see the Events Calendar.

A selection of upcoming events:

Thursday, March 1st
Genomic and Personalized Medicine Forum
Alex Kemper presents "Raiders of the Lost Blood Spots."

Monday, March 5th
Cancer Genetics & Genomics Forum
Matthew Hirschey presents "Protein Acetylation Induces Hepatocellular Carcinoma."

Tuesday, March 6th
Tuesday Seminar Series
Jeff Sekelsky from UNC, Chapel Hill presents.

Wednesday, March 14th
Systems Biology Seminar
John Harer presents "A Comparison of Quantitative Methods for Finding Periodicity in Gene Expression Data."

Friday, March 16th
Science & Society Journal Club
Featuring a discussion of a variety of scientific career options.

Monday, March 19th
Computational Biology
Diana Fusco, a CBB PhD student in the Charbonneau group, will present.

Tuesday, March 20th
Genome Academy
Introduction to Machine Learning and Applications in Biology Part I. Registration required.

Tuesday, March 20th
IGSP's Science & Health Career Explorations Dinner Series
Features discussion on science communications & media. Registration required.

Thursday, March 29th
UPGG Distinguished Lecturer Thursday features Jay Shendure.

Thursday, March 29th
The IGSP co-sponsors a lecture by Richard Dawkins on his new book "The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True." Free tickets available to Duke community beginning March 1st.


The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will support research aimed to characterize genes and gene variants linked to lung diseases.

The National Institutes of Health plans to increase funding for Alzheimer's research, with focus on sequencing-based studies, GenomeWeb reports.

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