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Darwinedin: Big Week in NZ's Genetics Capital

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

From dogs to health, from evolution to conservation, and from scientific journals to multi-media canvases, Dunedin will offer a journey of genetic discovery in the week beginning Sunday 2 July 2017.

A series of fascinating public talks and events will be held in conjunction with the Annual Conference of the Genetics Society of AustralAsia, an international meeting of genetics researchers from Australasia and beyond, proudly hosted for the first time by Genetics Otago at the University of Otago on 2-6 July 2017.

The mid-winter week of events offers a great chance for the public to meet friendly and global leading scientists whose research could significantly impact society in the near future.

All the events are free but for some registration is required in order to secure your place - check out the details below, and follow Genetics Otago on twitter and facebook for updates.

Conservation Genetics: New Tools to Preserve our Unique Wildlife

full_alison-ballance-13Sunday 2 July 2017, 2:45-4:00pm, Orokonui Ecosanctuary

How can genetic tools help protect and restore Aotearoa’s unique biodiversity? What are the success stories and exciting new techniques? Who are the scientists behind this fascinating area of conservation?

In this friendly panel talk chaired by RNZ's Alison Ballance at the fantastic Orokonui Ecosanctuary, hear about the exciting science and latest discoveries from a group of emerging conservation genetics experts from New Zealand and Australia. Read more and get your free registration here.

Pet Dogs, Citizen Science and Complex Behavioral Genetics

Elinor KarlssonElinor Karlsson, Assistant Professor in bioinformatics and integrative biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Elinor Karlsson has a special interest in diseases shared between humans and dogs. She recently launched the citizen science-driven Darwin’s Dogs project, which invites all dog owners to participate directly in research exploring the genetic basis of dog behavior, as well as diseases such as OCD and cancer. Come and discover what her research has uncovered about dogs as well as their human friends. Read more and get your free registration here.

Using Large-scale Genomic Databases to Interpret Genetic Variation

Daniel MacArthur Headshot[2] copyDaniel MacArthur, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and Co-Director of Medical and Population Genetics and the Center for Mendelian Genomics at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

New advances in genomics have made it possible to look across the DNA of many tens of thousands of people, providing an unprecedented view of the landscape of human genetic diversity. In this presentation Dr MacArthur will explain these advances, and describe how they have empowered increased understanding of biology, population history, and the genetics of rare diseases. Read more and get your free registration here.

Me, My Dog and Maize: Studying evolution and domestication at the population level using ancient DNA

TWtom_gilbert-web-small1492642123Professor Tom Gilbert, Natural History Museum of Denmark

In Darwin's day, tracking the process of biological evolution was limited to studying changes and differences in the physical forms of fossils and living species. For nearly 40 years now, these studies have been supplemented, increasingly powerfully, by DNA analyses. From comparisons of just a few key DNA sequences, DNA technology itself has evolved to now allow evolutionary biologists to compare the entire genomes (all of an organism’s DNA) of species. In recent years, researchers have begun to integrate DNA from historic and even ancient specimens into such genomic analyses, following the realization that while analyzing modern samples can tell us about the end point of evolutionary processes, inclusion of samples from the past can literally provide insight into the changes as they happened.

We are now seeing the dawn of an era in which population level genomic analyses of ancient and present day populations are possible. Tom Gilbert will explore the power of such approaches in this talk using human, dog and maize evolution as examples. Read more and get your free registration here.

Art and Genetics

What do you get when you pair a geneticist with an artist? Anything is possible but it is bound to be inspiring and thought provoking! In a collaboration between the Dunedin School of Art and the University of Otago, Dunedin scientists have lent their brainwaves to Dunedin artists' creative waves. The result will exhibited at the Otago Museum's HD Skinner Annex (the old post office) 4-16 July 10am-3pm.

ARt and Genetics