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When Good Eggs Go Bad--Because Sometimes Even Chromosomes Aren’t Perfect

Life in all higher animals, including humans, begins with the egg. Formation of this highly specialized cell involves many processes that are fundamental for development into adulthood. In one particular process, meiosis, the chromosomes are partitioned so that the egg receives precisely one chromosome from each of the 23 pairs. Hundreds of genes are known to play vital roles in this process, and understanding how they function together with the chromosomes has profound relevance to conditions such as birth defects and cancer.

R. Scott Hawley, American Cancer Society Research Professor at the Stowers Institute, will present some of his most important findings from work in model organisms on what he calls the ‘meiotic dance,’ an orchestration of chromosome interactions among themselves and with the meiotic gene products that govern how they behave in the egg, and what we can learn when these meiotic genes fail to function.

Dr. Hawley is a world-renowned expert in chromosome biology and meiosis, and is regarded as one of the premier speakers and teachers in the biological sciences. He received a B.S. from the University of California at Riverside, and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington where he trained with the pioneer geneticist, Prof. Larry Sandler. He was a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia. He held faculty positions at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the University of California at Davis before moving to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 2001. Additionally, Dr. Hawley has served as the president of the Genetics Society of America and has won several national awards for excellence in teaching. In 2011 Dr. Hawley was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.