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VOLUME 12, NUMBER 12 • DECEMBER 15, 2000

Botstein to give two talks on Dec. 18

On Mon., Dec. 18, David Botstein, a geneticist at Stanford University School of Medicine, will give two talks at The Rockefeller University. At noon he will give a scientific lecture entitled "When Good Genes Go Bad: Genomewide Gene Expression in Cancer." Then in the evening, he will present a Centennial Cohn Forum lecture entitled "What Are We Learning From the Genome Project?"

When Good Cells Go Bad

Scientists classify tumors on the basis of patterns of gene expression—which genes are turned on or off in the cascade of biological processes that results in cancer. For example, different forms of breast cancer or lymphomas differ both in the biology of their tumor cells and in their clinical outcomes. Botstein will discuss the current state of classifying tumors on the basis of gene expression patterns.

Botstein's research has centered on genetics, especially the use of genetic methods to understand biological functions. The bacteriophage P22 was the focus of his earliest research, which included studies of DNA replication, recombination, head assembly and DNA maturation.

Botstein also contributed to the understanding of the regulation and evolution of temperate bacteriophages. In the early 1970s Botstein turned to budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and devised novel genetic methods to study the functions of the actin and tubulin cytoskeletons.

Other scientific interests of the Botstein laboratory include protein secretion (both in bacteria and yeast) and the use of localized random mutagenesis technologies to understand protein structure/function relationships.

Botstein began his theoretical contributions on linkage mapping of the human genome beginning in 1980 by suggesting, with collaborators, that restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) could be used to produce a linkage map of the human genome and to map the genes that cause disease in humans. His current research activities include studies of yeast genetics and cell biology, linkage mapping of human genes predisposing to manic-depressive illness, hypertension and other complex diseases and the development and maintenance (with J. Michael Cherry) of the Saccharomyces Genome Database on the World Wide Web (

What Are We Learning From the Genome Project?

Last June, the international Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics Corporation announced the completion of a "working draft" of the human genome sequence—the genetic code that carries the instructions allowing us to develop, grow and live. Scientists can now begin to understand the secrets of life processes to an extraordinary degree, personalizing medicine and offering clues to the differences—and remarkable similarities—among us. Botstein will discuss what researchers are learning from the human genome sequence.(See last week's News&Notes for more details.)

Botstein was educated at Harvard (A.B. 1963) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D. 1967). He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he rose through the ranks from instructor to professor of genetics. In 1987 he moved to Genentech Inc. as vice president–science, and in 1990 he moved to his present position as Stanford W. Ascherman, M.D., Professor and chairman of the Department of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Botstein was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1981 and to the Institute of Medicine in 1993. He has won several awards, notably the Eli Lilly Award in Microbiology (1978), the Genetics Society of America Medal (1988) and the Allen Award of the American Society of Human Genetics (1989). He served on many policy-making and peer-review committees, most recently the NAS/NRC study on the Human Genome Project (1987-88), the NIH Program Advisory Panel on the Human Genome (1989-90) and the Advisory Council of the National Center for Human Genome Research (1990-1995).

Both of Botstein's talks take place in Caspary Auditorium on Mon., Dec. 18. His talk on genomewide gene expression in cancer will take place at 12 p.m. The Centennial Cohn Forum discussion of the genome project takes place at 5:30 p.m. and is preceded by sherry in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Lounge at 5:00 p.m. All are welcome.


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