Published: 30-04-2013 00:00 | Updated: 26-11-2013 10:33

Beyond the double helix - your DNA isn't the whole story

[PRESS INVITATION 30 April 2013] Some genes are expressed only in certain cells and at certain times. Ever since David Allis, professor at the Rockefeller University in New York, discovered the workings of a system that controls the genes, the field of epigenetics has exploded. He is now coming to Sweden to hold a lecture at Karolinska Institutet.

Professor C. David Allis

The human genome consists of some 40,000 unique genes. All genes are found in all cells of the body, but it is just a small percentage of them that are activated in any one cell type. The whole process is controlled by chromatin, a structure consisting of histone proteins and DNA that packages genes and activates them when required.

"David Allis discovered the first enzyme that modifies histone proteins so that genes can be expressed," says Professor Per Svenningsson of Karolinska Institutet and scientific coordinator of the collaboration. "He has also described how a number of different histone modifications interact in our cells to switch gene expressions on or off. His work has therefore contributed a great deal to our understanding of how genes are normally regulated and how faulty regulation can give rise to disease."

David Allis's research has been of fundamental importance to the development of the field of epigenetics, which describes how the environment affects gene expression. It is also hoped that epigenetic research will one day develop treatments for diseases such as cancer based on the manipulation of chromatin.

The lecture is part of an institutionalized collaboration between the Rockefeller University in the USA and Karolinska Institutet. The Rockefeller University is world renowned for its research and education in the biomedical sciences and has produced no less than 23 Nobel laureates. These so-termed Nicholson Lectures are held annually by scientists from each university in each country. There is also a research exchange programme in place that enables researchers from one university to spend some time working at the other.

Reporters are welcome to attend the lecture:

Beyond the double helix: why your DNA isn't the whole story.

Lecturer: Professor C. David Allis, Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics, the Rockefeller University, New York.

When: Tuesday 14 May 2013, 5 pm - 6 pm

Where: Nobel Forum, Nobels väg 1, Karolinska Institutet, Campus Solna.

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