News and Events

Dr. Gilbert S. Omenn, Harold T. Shapiro Distinguished University Professor of Medicine. He also is professor of computational medicine and bioinformatics, professor of internal medicine, professor of human generics, Medical School; and professor of public health, School of Public Health.

The annual retreat for the Genetics Training Program will be held on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, from 9 am to noon in the Kahn Auditorium, BSRB (Biomedical Science and Research Building) 109 Zina Pitcher Place. At 10 am, Dr. Landweber will present the keynote lecture titled "RNA-Mediated Genome Rearrangement in the Ciliate Oxytricha"

Laura Landweber is a Professor of Biology in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Before joining the faculty at Princeton, she was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. She has authored over 130 publications in molecular and evolutionary biology and edited 3 books, in areas ranging from genetics and evolution to biological computation. She has served on various panels, working groups, and advisory committees for the NSF, NIH, NHGRI, and NASA and co-chaired the NHGRI Comparative Genome Evolution Working Group from 2003-2007. She is currently Co-Editor-in-Chief of Biology Direct (, a journal experimenting with open, signed peer review. She is on the editorial board of Genome Biology and Evolution and Eukaryotic Cell and served as Councilor for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution from 2007-2009. Recent awards include a Guggenheim fellowship (2012) and a Blavatnik award for young scientists (2008), and she was elected a Fellow of AAAS for probing the diversity of genetic systems in microbial eukaryotes, including scrambled genes, RNA editing, variant genetic codes, and comparative genomics. Her work investigates the origin of novel genetic systems. Recent discoveries include the ability of small and long non-coding RNA molecules to transmit heritable information across generations, bypassing the information encoded in DNA.

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.