News and Events

Ann Arbor, MI – Haig H. Kazazian, Jr., MD, Professor of Human Genetics at the Institute of Genetic Medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will give the 15th Annual James V. Neel Lecture in Human Genetics at the University of Michigan Medical School on Tuesday, May 19, at 3:00 p.m. Dr. Kazazian’s lecture, "A Potential Role for ‘Jumping Genes’ in Cancer", will take place at the Alfred A. Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building in the D. Dan & Betty Kahn Auditorium, located at 109 Zina Pitcher Place on the University of Michigan medical campus.
Dr. Kazazian received his A.B. degree from Dartmouth College in 1959. He then attended Dartmouth Medical School, a two-year school at the time, and finished his M.D. degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. At Hopkins, he met his wife of 52 years and married during his internship in Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Hospital. After two years training in Minneapolis, he returned to Johns Hopkins for a two-year fellowship in genetics with Barton Childs, M.D. He then trained for two and 1/2 years in molecular biology in the lab of Harvey Itano, M.D., at the NIH. After a third year of pediatric training at Johns Hopkins, he joined the faculty there in 1969. He rose through the ranks to become a full professor in 1977, and at that time, he headed the Pediatric Genetics Unit. In 1988, he became Director of the Center for Medical Genetics at Johns Hopkins.

After 25 years on the Hopkins faculty, Dr. Kazazian was recruited to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine as Chair of the Department of Genetics in 1994. At Penn, he recruited 10 young faculty to the department. In 2006 he stepped down as department chair, but remained as the Seymour Gray Professor of Molecular Medicine in Genetics until 2010. In July 2010, he returned to Johns Hopkins Medical School as a Professor in the Institute of Genetic Medicine. In 1988, Dr. Kazazian discovered that the mobility of transposable elements or “jumping genes” can lead to human disease. His laboratory has studied mammalian transposable elements for the past 25 years and his work has led to groundbreaking discoveries about how “jumping genes” contribute to human disease and genome evolution. Prior to 1988, Dr. Kazazian characterized much of the normal variation, dubbed “haplotypes”, in the cluster of genes involved in production of the beta chain of human hemoglobin. With Stuart Orkin at Harvard, his work led to the first essentially complete characterization of the mutations in a Mendelian disease, -thalassemia, a common anemia in regions of the world endemic for malaria.

Dr. Kazazian has published nearly 400 papers and a book entitled, “Mobile DNA: Finding Treasures in Junk.” He is a member of a number of national organizations, including the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Kazazian also has received a number of honors for his research, most notably the 2008 William Allan Award, the top honor of the American Society of Human Genetics.

This annual lectureship honors James V. Neel, M.D., Ph.D., a pioneer in the study of human genetics and one of the first to foresee its importance in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In 1956, Neel established the first academic department of human genetics in the United States at the University of Michigan Medical School, which he chaired for 25 years. He received the Lasker Award, the National Medal of Science, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. This annual event includes the presentation of the James V. Neel Fellowship Awards, which recognize outstanding academic and research achievements of human genetics graduate students pursuing Ph.D. degrees and M.S. degrees in genetic counseling.
A reception and poster session will follow the lecture. For more information, call 734-647-3149

Diane M. Robins, PhD – Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes distinguished service in the field of endocrinology. Robins is being honored for her remarkable service to the success and future of the Endocrine Society. Robins became a member of the Society in 1992 and has tirelessly contributed to the organization. She volunteered to serve on more than 12 different committees and editorial boards, and she chaired the Annual Meeting Steering Committee for ENDO 2013, the Society’s 95th annual meeting. Robins is Professor of Human Genetics and Research Scientist for the Reproductive Sciences Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

The League of Research Excellence was established in 2011 to recognize faculty who have made significant contributions to the Medical School's research enterprise. Membership in the League is testimony to the quality of the inductees’ research and scholarship, and is a reflection of the high regard we have for their service to the Medical School’s research mission.

The University of Michigan Medical School is fortunate to have investigators who challenge the boundaries of science, find new and creative ways of thinking and healing, and improve the lives of our patients and families.

During a dinner Nov. 17 in the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building, we honored 49 of our most-accomplished research faculty with induction into The League of Research Excellence — an honorary society established in 2011 to recognize faculty who have made significant contributions to our research enterprise. Including the inaugural class of 2011, there are 187 League faculty.

2014 Inductees from the Department of Human Genetics:

Vivian G. Cheung, M.D.

Eric R. Fearon, M.D., Ph.D.

David Ginsburg, M.D.

Donna M. Martin, M.D., Ph.D.

John V. Moran, Ph.D.

Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D.

Cristen J. Willer, Ph.D.

Margaret Hefner, MS, CGC
Genetic Counselor, Adjunct Associate Professor,
Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics
Saint Louis University Department of Pediatrics

Ms. Hefner is an internationally recognized expert in CHARGE syndrome and has dedicated most of her professional life to helping patients and families affected by this diagnosis. She has worked in pediatric genetics since 2004, founded the first US CHARGE Syndrome clinic at the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis and the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation in 1993. She has also co-authored CHARGE Syndrome, a book focused on the description of the sensory, physical, and behavioral findings of the condition, as well as numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts, and family-oriented educational materials.

“Getting a CHARGE out of genetics: The co-evolution of a genetic counseling career and genetic support group”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
3:30 pm

3813 & 3817 Medical Science II

Hosted by the Department of Human Genetics & The University of Michigan Medical School
For information, call 734-647-3149