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AAAS Council Elects New AAAS Fellows
"Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation" is the theme for the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting but it also describes the achievements of the new AAAS Fellows.
Diane Robins, Professor of Human Genetics and Research Scientist for Reproductive Sciences Program, is among the 388 newly-elected AAAS Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, along with seven other University of Michigan scientists and engineers recognized by their peers for their efforts to advance science or its applications.
Dr. Robins is honored for distinguished research contributions in the fields of molecular endocrinology and cancer genetics, including insights into androgen receptor function, as well as for outstanding leadership in graduate education and for service to scientific organizations.
The new AAAS Fellows, whose names were published in the 29 November issue of Science, will be honored at the AAAS Fellows Forum on Saturday, February 15 during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, where they will receive a certificate and a blue and gold rosette as a symbol of their distinguished accomplishments.
Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. The tradition of AAAS fellows began in 1874. Members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by steering groups of the association's 24 sections, by any three fellows who are current AAAS members, or by the association's chief executive officer. The AAAS policy making council votes on the final list.
In 2012, U-M led the nation with 19 scientists and engineers elected as AAAS fellows. Congratulations to Diane Robins on this outstanding award.
"It is fitting that David E. Rogers, this award’s namesake, was an inspiration for Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D. Ph.D. Over five decades, “Dr. Omenn has made fundamental basic scientific contributions, led major public health studies and initiatives, championed the role of academic medical centers, and played a key role in forming health policy for our nation, says David Ginsburg, M.D., his University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School colleague.
Dr. Omenn has been professor of internal medicine, human genetics, and public health at U-M since 1997. He also directs the university-wide Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, founded in 2005, and leads the global Human Proteome Project. From 1997 to 2002, Dr. Omenn was CEO of the U-M Health System and executive vice president for medical affairs. He led the integration of the medical school, hospitals and health centers, and M-Care HMO to create an academically strong, patient-centered, financially stable U-M Health System.
A leader on the national stage, Dr. Omenn has held high-level government appointments during the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama. “In the mid-1990s, he chaired the Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, called the ‘Omenn Commission,’ with an enormous impact on the work of regulatory and public health agencies,” says Dr. Ginsburg. In 2004, Dr. Omenn received the John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award from the White House Fellows Association.
Dr. Omenn has served on advisory boards for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Academies, the IOM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Hastings Center. Dr. Omenn conducted extensive research on proteins at Princeton University, Harvard Medical School, and the NIH. As a fourth-year medical student, he reported in the New England Journal of Medicine a kindred with reticuloendotheliosis, later named Omenn syndrome. He launched his faculty career in medical genetics in 1971 at the University of Washington (UW). Dr. Omenn was the founding director of the UW Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, through which he interacted with Dr. Rogers. He was simultaneously a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
By 1979, Dr. Omenn was professor of medicine. He served as dean of the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine from 1982 to 1997, created the UW-wide Institute on Public Health Genetics, and was principal investigator for the beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) against lung cancers in high-risk populations.
Dr. Omenn received his A.B. degree from Princeton University, M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School, and Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Washington.,"
" A global hunt for genes that influence heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter the levels of cholesterol and other blood fats – a discovery that could lead to new medications.
The huge scan of genetic variations linked to blood lipid levels used an advanced device called a Metabochip. Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets. Many of the changes point to genes not previously linked to blood fats, also called lipids. A surprising number of the variations were also associated with coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
The research also reveals that triglycerides – another type of blood lipid – play a larger role in heart disease risk than previously thought.
The results, published in a paper and a letter appearing simultaneously in the journal Nature Genetics, come from the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium -- a worldwide team of scientists who pooled genetic and clinical information from more than 188,000 people from many countries and heritages.
The analysis of the combined data was led by a team from the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health. They used sophisticated computing and statistical techniques to search for genetic variations that modify blood lipid levels.
The results increase by more than a third the total number of genetic variants linked to blood lipids. All but one of the variants associated with blood lipids are near stretches of DNA that encode proteins.
“These results give us 62 new clues about lipid biology, and more places to look than we had before,” says Cristen Willer, Ph.D., the lead author of one paper and an assistant professor of Internal Medicine, Human Genetics and Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics at the U-M Medical School. “Once we take the time to truly understand these clues, we’ll have a better understanding of lipid biology and cardiovascular disease -- and potentially new targets for treatment.”
But, cautions senior author and U-M School of Public Health Professor Gonçalo Abecasis, Ph.D., it will take much further work to study the implicated genes and to find and test potential drugs that could target them. The consortium’s “open science” approach will include publishing further detail online for other researchers to use freely toward this goal.
A further analysis of the dataset, published as a letter with lead author Ron Do, Ph.D. and senior author Sekar Kathiresan, M.D. from the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests triglyceride levels have more impact on coronary artery disease risk than previously thought."
"More than 7 billion people live on this planet – members of a single species that originated in one place and migrated all over the Earth over tens of thousands of years.
But even though we all trace our family lineage to a few common ancestors, scientists still don’t know exactly when and how those few ancestors started to give rise to the incredible diversity of today’s population.
A brand-new finding, made using advanced analysis of DNA from all over the world, sheds new light on this mystery. By studying the DNA sequence of Y chromosomes of men from many different populations, scientists have determined that their male most recent common ancestor (MRCA) lived sometime between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago.
It’s the first time the human ancestry has been traced back through the male line by sequencing the DNA of many entire Y chromosomes.
And, it agrees reasonably well with previous findings about our female most recent common ancestor, made by studying DNA carried down through the human race’s female line. Such studies used DNA from mitochrondria -- structures inside cells – and placed that time of the most recent common ancestor between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago. That agreement makes the new finding especially significant:
The research was done by a team of scientists from Stanford University, the University of Michigan Medical School, Stony Brook University, and their colleagues, and is published in the journal Science.
The team hopes their work will lead to further research on Y chromosomes as vehicles for studying human history – and tracing male lineages back to the common “Adam” ancestors.
Jeffrey Kidd, Ph.D., an assistant professor in U-M's departments of Human Genetics and Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics who worked on the new study, notes that only recently has it become possible to sequence Y chromosomes, because of technical limitations of previous approaches.
The new paper details how the team was able to make reliable measurements of the sequence variation along the Y chromosome – which is handed down only from father to son without exchanging, or recombining, genetic material with other chromosomes.
Kidd notes that this initial paper on Y chromosome sequence diversity provides important first evidence that the male most recent common ancestor did not live more recently than the female most recent common ancestor.
“We’re interested in understanding the historical relationships between many different human populations, and the migration patterns that have led to the peopling of the world,” he says. “We hope that others will make use of this approach and sequence additional chromosomes of interest that are related to the peopling of specific places.”
The study involved Y chromosomes obtained through the Human Genome Diversity Project, and from other sources. It included chromosomes from 69 men in several populations in sub-Saharan Africa, and from Siberia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Algeria and Mexico.
The great migrations of our ancestors out of Africa, across Asia and Europe and into the Americas all helped shape today’s populations – as did more recent forces related to colonialism and ever-growing global mobility.
Genetic studies such as this one may help anthropologists understand those migrations – and their timing – even better by giving them a genetic “clock” to use when studying today’s humans, or potentially DNA extracted from ancient bones. It may also help scientists understand the great genetic diversity seen across Africa, and the evolution process that led to modern humans.
The reconciliation of the timing of ancestors some might call “Adam” and “Eve”, however, may be this study’s most important immediate implication.
“This has been a conundrum in human genetics for a long time,” said Carlos D. Bustamante, Ph.D., a professor of genetics at Stanford and senior author of the study. “Previous research has indicated that the male MRCA lived much more recently than the female MRCA. But now our research shows that there’s no discrepancy. In fact, if anything, the Y chromosome may be a bit older.”
In addition to Kidd and Bustamante, the research team includes U-M’s Elzbieta Sliwerska, Stanford’s G. David Poznik, Brenna M. Henn, Muh-Ching Yee, Ghia M. Euskirchen, Alice A. Lin, Michael Snyder, and Peter A. Underhill, and Lluis Quintana-Murci from Institut Pasteur in Paris.
Reference: Science 2 August 2013: Vol. 341 no. 6145 pp. 562-565 DOI: 10.1126/science.1237619
Funding: National Library of Medicine LM-07033, National Science Foundation DGE-1147470; National Institutes of Health 3R01HG003229 and DP5OD009154; Institut Pasteur, CNRS MIE, Foundation Simone et Cino del Duca."