Lyceum Society: How Is a Fly Like a Human? (Conservation of Genes)

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Lyceum Society: How Is a Fly Like a Human? (Conservation of Genes)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by the Lyceum Society

 

The Lyceum Society comprises the Academy's retired and semi-retired members. Talks cover various scientific fields. All Academy members are welcome.

All Lyceum meetings (except December) are Brown Bag lunches.

Brown Bag: 11:30 AM
Brief-Brief: 12:45 PM
Lecture & Discussion: 1:00–3:00 PM

Brief-Brief:
The Role of Capillarity and Surface Tension in Invention Illumination, Writing and Lubrication
Speaker: Joel Kirman

Main Presentation:
How is a Fly Like a Human? (Conservation of Genes)
Speaker: Hugh Evans

The tiny fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, breeds easily and has a short life span, and thus has been a useful model for experiments on genetics for the last century. The practice of categorizing animal species according to body morphology created the assumption that the fly had little, if anything, in common with the human. Recent advances in molecular biology have greatly expanded research on the fly beyond the circle of classical geneticists. We now know that the fly and human share about 50% of their genetic code. Genes are conserved throughout the animal kingdom. Thus, the fly is more relevant to questions about human function than had been assumed. Research has found only a few traits controlled by a single gene, but is examining complex traits that may be controlled by many genes. Examples are provided from research on learning, memory, sleep and the effects of alcohol. The conclusion is that the fly shares some of the basic genetic “building blocks” and life functions with humans.

Hugh L. Evans graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 with a PhD in Psychobiology. Most of Hugh’s academic career has been as Professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, where his laboratory research focused on environmental influences of nervous system disorders. He is currently a part time Research Professor at New York University.

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