Tag Archives: genetics

Gordon Conference: Quantitative Genetics and Genomics

From the MGI mailing list this week came this announcement. You can help Galveston Island recover from Hurricane Ike AND learn great stuff! Students/Postdocs should see the scholarship pieces especially:

The Gordon Conference on Quantitative Genetics and Genomics will be held at the Hotel Galvez from February 22-26. 2009. Although Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on the Texas gulf coast, the Hotel sustained minimal damage and massive repair and restoration efforts are underway across the region.
We have received a letter from the mayor of Galveston
(http://www.grc.org/Files/News/galveston_letter.pdf) urging us to keep the conference on the island. They are trying to quickly restore the tourism industry and are welcoming visitors.

Due to the generous support from many sponsors, we are able to fund several scholarships for graduate students and postdocs to partially defray registration costs for attending the conference. Depending on interest, we are currently expecting to fund at least 10 scholarships of at least $500 each. To apply, please email the following by October 27 to

a) A one page letter stating the reasons why you would like to attend the conference.
b) Your current CV

We already have over 100 applicants for the conference, and space is limited. I urge you to register as early as possible:

See you in Galveston,
Daniel Pomp , Chair
Peter Visscher, Vice-Chair

(emails removed for web post, go to the web page).

Hat tip to David Threadgill for forwarding that along to the MGI mailing list to draw attention to it.

Race and Genetics: The Future of Personalized Medicine

From Kaisernetwork.org, this web seminar on Wednesday 8/20 1ET (tomorrow):

View a live webcast of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s series, Today’s Topics In Health Disparities, which will discuss the potential of race-based medical solutions for improving healthcare and reducing racial/ethnic health disparities. The webcast will take a closer look at efforts to study the interaction between race, genetics and health.

Panelists will discuss the efforts underway to develop medications to treat diseases that disproportionately affect certain racial and ethnic groups, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of using genetic markers for race in medical decisions. Other topics covered include which genetic factors are being used to personalize medicine and what pharmaceutical companies are doing to target the drugs and treatments they offer to certain groups.

Details about the technology and setup are here: Today’s Topics In Health Disparities – Race and Genetics: The Future of Personalized Medicine

I’m not sure how research-oriented it will be. But if you are interested in the future directions of personal genomics this is an area that might be worth learning more about. A new focus at NIH includes the NICGHD, that we talked about here.

New On-line Tutorials on GeneTests and Genetic Home Reference

Comprehensive tutorials on the disease gene databases GeneTests and Genetic Home Reference enable researchers to quickly and effectively use these invaluable resources.

OpenHelix today announced the availability of new tutorial suites on two genetic disease resources: GeneTests and Genetic Home Reference. GeneTests is an integrated resource designed to provide access to current genetic testing and other clinical genetics information for clinicians, biomedical professionals and researchers. Genetic Home Reference is an extensive collection of data that describe the effects of genetic variability on human health and disease written in lay language for both the general public and researchers.

The tutorial suites, available for single purchase or through a low-priced yearly subscription to all OpenHelix tutorials, contain a narrated, self-run, online tutorial, slides, handouts and exercises. With the tutorials, researchers can quickly learn to effectively and efficiently use these resources. These tutorials will teach users:


  • to perform disease-specific searches and navigate the GeneTests site
  • to understand the GeneReviews and Laboratory Directory Displays
  • to access additional searches to query the GeneReviews and Laboratory Directory databases by disease feature, gene and protein specific searches, and more
  • to identify U.S. and international laboratories offering molecular genetic testing for specific disorders, use the Clinical Directory to locate genetics professionals and services, and investigate additional educational and other resources

Genetic Home Reference (GHR)

  • How to search by genetic disease, condition, or syndrome, gene or chromosome
  • To access more general or more specific information on genetic conditions, genes or chromosomes
  • To browse GHR and explore its resources like the genetic handbook and glossary
  • Methods to stay current in the latest developments in genetics

To find out more about these and other tutorial suites visit OpenHelix or the OpenHelix blog for up-to-date information on genomics. About OpenHelix
OpenHelix, LLC, (http://www.openhelix.com) provides the genomics knowledge you need when you need it. OpenHelix currently provides online self-run tutorials and on-site training for institutions and companies on the most powerful and popular free, web based, publicly accessible bioinformatics resources. In addition, OpenHelix is contracted by resource providers to provide comprehensive, long-term training and outreach programs.

Allen Brain Atlas, part duex

The Allen Institute for Brain Sceince is a great institution that was founded just under 5 years ago with a 100 million seed money from billionaire Paul Allen (of Microsoft fame). The purpose is,

… dedicated to performing innovative basic research on the brain and distributing its discoveries to researchers around the world. Through its efforts, the Institute aims to advance a new understanding of brain diseases and disorders.

The result of this research is disseminated through some excellent tools at the Allen Brain Atlas. This research and tool focuses on the mouse brain and determining which genes are expressed in different parts of the brain.

Well, it was recently announced that not only are they planning to extend this map to the mouse spinal chord and another atlas of brain development from fetus to adult mouse, they have launched a project to do a similar atlas of the human brain. This project is expected to take four years.

btw, the “brain explorer” tool is just cool. My expertise isn’t mouse or brain science, but I like roaming around the brain as much as the next guy :).

We’ll keep you up-to-date on the progress :).

A taste of OpenHelix

The bloggers here at OpenHelix and some of our family and friends decided to do the taste tests. You know the ones. You probably did them in your genetics class. I used them in my introductory biology class at CCSF years ago and had hundreds of the test strips left. So, we thought we’d distribute them to the bloggers and families here and see what the results were. The test strips are for sodium benzoate, PTC and thiourea. There is also a control strip of no taste (but paper). I numbered the strips and sent them to the bloggers and families (so they wouldn’t know what they were tasting, control or otherwise). And here are the results (and some database links to more about the genetics of taste):

Continue reading

A history of mice.


Well, not all mice–not like the project that studied the history of cats (I can haz domesticashun?). This project examined the ancestry of the laboratory inbred mouse. This poster (small section on the left) is one of those cool nearly-secret things you come across once in a while that just make you go: whew–I’m glad somebody knows this… This work was underway when I was at the Jackson Lab and I often think back to it when I read mouse papers, and you can print up the whole document as a poster (it’s a big PDF). I’m not going to link to the PDF itself, please go to this page at Jax: Genealogy Chart of Inbred Strains and click the downloadable Portable Document Format (PDF) file link for to examine this whole mouse pedigree chart.

From the paper:

We describe the origins and relationships of inbred mouse strains, 90 years after the generation of the first inbred strain.

The paper is actually quite a nice description of the how we got to the mice you probably know and love if you have ever worked with them in the lab. It describes important phenotypic considerations around aging and breeding that could impact your work–even if those topics are not the focus of your work.

Continue reading

Genetic Alliance

Some people come to this blog looking for help and information about specific genetic conditions. Although that is something we may touch on from time-to-time as new data or databases may arise, it isn’t something we will focus on. But I wanted to provide a link to an organization that does really great work with the groups who can help with specific genetic issues: The Genetic Alliance.

They describe themselves as:

Genetic Alliance is a coalition of more than 600 advocacy organizations serving 25 million people affected by 1000 conditions. The organization works to transform leadership in the genetics community to build capacity in advocacy organizations and to educate policymakers by leveraging the voices of individuals and families.

They have helpful resources including disease information searches, organization searches, they are working on tissue banking to aid researchers who need to obtain samples (GA BioBank), they have mailing lists and wikis, and even a Guide for Understanding Genetics for Patients and Professionals.

They also advocate on medical and legal issues of public policy, including working hard for the GINA legislation to protect Americans from discrimination based on their genetic information.

A terrific organization. Check them out.

Coat color genes

One of my favorite mailing lists is the mouse researcher discussion list at The Jackson Lab. I think is the list to which I have been subscribed the longest in my career. It is moderated (never spammed), it has a great community of mouse researchers, and they discuss a range of things–benchwork to bioinformatics. There are meeting announcements. Job postings. All sorts of stuff.

Today I learned that the Coat Color Genes web site has moved:

This useful WEB resource was created and maintained by Bill Oetting (Univ.
Minnesota) and offered through the IFPCS WEB page. Now, we have agreed with Bill that we will take over the responsability and, from now on, regularly update this WEB page. Please update your links accordingly.

Yesterday I learned that researchers are actually using Nair on mice to remove hair for bioimaging applications. Dark fur quenches signals, it turns out. This makes sense to me. But I had no idea that anyone still actually used Nair anymore. I didn’t even know they made it. See, you learn new things every day!

10x life?

Organism Lives 10 Times as Long After Genetic Tinkering

Longo and his team previously found two genes — RAS2 and SCH9 — related to growth and development of cancer that are similar in humans and yeast. They are so alike, in fact, that Longo said, “you can put the human gene in yeast and it works.”

So there are some antique yeasts out there. Really antique. And the researcher is Dr. Longo? How very fitting.

I’m intrigued about the mutations in the Ecuadoran population related to these genes. Looking forward to seeing this paper when it comes out in PLoS Genetics. We have been thinking about highly-conserved genes here lately and may “brew” a project on that, to show how various tools could be used to approach our questions. Continue reading